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Private Contributions and Public School Resources


Author Info

  • Eric Brunner

    (Department of Economics, San Diego State University)

  • Jennifer Imazeki

    (Department of Economics, San Diego State University)


In the wake of school finance reforms that limit local tax revenue and, more recently, state budget cuts that have threatened K-12 education spending, an increasing number of schools and school districts have appealed to parents and communities for voluntary contributions to augment school resources. Of course, not all schools benefit equally from these contributions leading to a common concern that voluntary contributions create inequities in school funding across communities. In this paper we examine the size and distribution of voluntary contributions to California’s K-12 public schools in 2001. In addition, we examine how contributions have affected the distribution of resources across schools. Our results indicate that while some schools have been quite successful in raising voluntary contributions, overall, contributions have not led to large inequities in the distribution of resources among high- and low-income schools. Specifically, schools raising particularly high levels of contributions, over $500 per pupil, do tend to have more resources, but these schools are rare and very small. Over ninety-nine percent of California elementary students attend schools where contributions have almost no effect on inputs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by San Diego State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0011.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sds:wpaper:0011

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Related research

Keywords: Voluntary Contributions; Public School Finance; School Resources;

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Cited by:
  1. Kathryn Wilson & Kristina Lambright & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2004. "School Finance, Equivalent Educational Expenditure, and Income Distribution: Equal Dollars or Equal Chances for Success?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 62, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.


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