The Ignacio School District is one of the most equitable districts in Colorado when it comes to spending on students, according to WalletHub, a personal finance website.
Equitable education means all students have the resources they need to achieve their goals. However, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed inequities in schooling nationwide. When it comes to equitable spending, Colorado ranks low, WalletHub said. However, Ignacio was seventh in the state because it spends more on its students than other districts even though it is in a lower-income area.
“We are very efficient and very careful with how we spend our money. We are at a greater need than other districts because of our population,” said Ignacio Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto. “We try to provide as many services as we can with the resources we have.”
While equality implies supporting everyone equally, equity means offering more support to the most disadvantaged so they can pursue the same opportunities.
The WalletHub report compared two factors to rank equity in schools: average household income and expenditures per pupil at public elementary and secondary schools. It focused on spending by schools, but did not analyze other factors that affect educational financing, like funding sources for schools.
The school districts highest on the list were those in lower-income areas that spent the most on students, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. The school districts lowest on the list were those in wealthy areas that spent relatively little on students.
While Ignacio was seventh out of 178 districts, Durango schools ranked 13th, and Bayfield schools were 30th. WalletHub said Ignacio spends about $13,594 per pupil. The average household income in the area is about $52,100.
Hanover School District 28 in Colorado Springs ranked first; Agate School District 300 in Elbert County, last. Colorado has the ninth least equitable school districts in the U.S. overall, according to the WalletHub analysis.
“We get about $9,500 per student in state aid in normal years,” said Fuschetto as a possible reason for Ignacio’s high ranking. “But the state budget was cut this year of course.”
As part of its spending, the district has invested in technology and student programs. For example, the school can provide Chromebooks for all students. Staff members also try to address other types of equity, for example by investing in technology access and focusing on culturally appropriate education.
“All students deserve the same type of education, regardless of the color of your skin or your socioeconomic level,” Fuschetto said.