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Surely parents in Seattle's low-income neighborhoods wouldn't want their school dollars spent on affluent kids enjoying the lake vistas in the North End. But they are. That's because schools in some of Seattle's poorest areas underwrite the costs of those in the wealthiest.

The district's latest school-based budgeting scheme puts the weakest schools at a serious disadvantage. The policy systematically funnels cash away from some of the lowest performing schools to mask the disproportionately high costs of some of the community's most successful schools.

Schools with greater numbers of poor, non-English speaking and minority students are supposed to get more money, according to the district's "weighted student formula." But that doesn't always happen. The formula, developed with the best intentions, turns out to be a shell game.

(Source: Marguerite Roza, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/24/00)