Instead of basing education funding on the real-life, real-time needs of students as does nearly every other state, Rhode Island essentially froze funding at 1997 levels, declaring these figures to represent each district's "base" needs," writes Providence Journal columnist Julia Steiny. "Since then, the state has given districts an annual percentage increase of their 'base.' But regardless of whether a district was growing or shrinking, thriving or failing, efficient or spendthrift, it still got the same ... increase as any other district," Steiny writes, adding that some state lawmakers are endeavoring to develop a more effective school-funding formula.

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