Portland Public Schools' Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Enrollment and Transfers is about to recommend to the Superintendent (and the PPS Board) that PPS put an end to neighborhood to neighborhood transfers. One argument for this change is that when a student transfers out resources follow the student, or, as Kelly House writes in there Oregonian article "New data show winners and losers under Portland Public Schools current transfer policy" (here), "Popular schools attract more students from outside the neighborhood, along with the per-pupil funding that accompanies each student,", and that somehow this more-students-means-more-resources and less-students-means-fewer resources creates inequities between schools, with the school with fewer students and fewer resources being disadvantaged.
Is this true in PPS' K-5 schools? Apart from racial and income aspects (and middle school -K-8 and high school issues), does the number of students in a K-5 school make a difference in its programs or offerings? Are there inequities in K-5 schools because of enrollment numbers? It is not obvious to me that within the enrollment range of PPS K-5's that the enrollment numbers make any difference.
(1) There is no one wad of cash that shifts schools when a student transfers. PPS largely allocates various positions as FTE's, not cash, based on enrollment numbers. There are several allocation formulas. I do not know if school principals get a smallish pot of funding based on enrollment or not. Maybe? I also think principals have some small amount of flexibility as to what kind of FTE's they get and how they use them. So, to a small degree, a principal may be able to customize programs at a school, but it is done in the context of doing one thing rather than another and not in the context of having more resources.
(2) More students means more services need to be provided and less students means fewer services need to be provided. Only if there are some economies of scale (while resources come at a flat rate) would there be any advantage to being larger or any disadvantage to being smaller. I do not see any economies of scales in PPS's K-5's.
(3) In the past era of PPS's declining enrollment, keeping students helped maintain the minimum number of students necessary to keep a school open. But now, PPS' enrollment is on the rise and such school closing dynamics should not be in play.
(4) In House's Oregonian article, she posts the following chart from modeling presented to the SACET. The chart shows what the past effect would have been if there were no neighborhood-to-neighborhood school transfers. In blue I have noted that Lewis would have lost the most without neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers. And in red, that Markham would have gained the most without neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers. Is Lewis better off now with neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers than it will be without them? Will Markham be better if neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers end and it has more students? I just do not see that the enrollment numbers matter.