Monday, December 08, 2008

Delving Into Levy Equalization and Local Effort Assistance Lovely Elegant Anteaters and....

At a meeting I had the other day the assertion was made that it really wasn't a surprise that the state would roll back the money that they put into what's known as the LEA Fund, which goes to help districts that are low in property value. It's more familiarly known as levy equalization, and it's been a hot topic for a number of years. The gist of the argument was that since LEA means a lot more to districts in Eastern Washington than Western, if the west side legislators needed to make a cut, why not there?

Anyhow, I was curious, so I wandered over to the OSPI website and downloaded this report which details how much money districts get for LEA. I played around with it and coded it by counties and whether they were on the east side of the state or the west; for the purposes of how I sorted things, there were 144 east side school districts and 152 on the west.

  • There are 79 school districts in the state that don't receive any LEA money. Of those, 57 are on the west side of the state, leaving 22 on the east. That means that 37.5% of west side school districts receive no LEA, compared to 15.3% on the east.
  • The actual allocation for east side districts was $121,312,536; for the west side districts, $89,217,123. Therefore, since more of the LEA money flows to the east, then any cut is also going to be felt harder in the east as well.
  • So, when you add it up, east side districts stand to lose $4.85 million dollars in LEA, and west side districts $3.57 million. This is about $400,000 off from the OSPI reported figure of $8,059,773, so I'm willing to bet that the percentages hold.
So, does the idea that this is an East v. West issue hold? More districts in Eastern Washington use LEA, and the cuts total more for eastern school districts, but Evergreen, Federal Way, Vancouver, Marysville, and Kelso are all western districts that receive $2.5 million or more in LEA.

I think this is one that could be spun the way a person wants it to be spun, but the blame doesn't make the reality any less painful.

If you'd like to see the document along with the changes I made, it's available off of Scribd, here.

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