The Baltimore school system serves children who come from neighborhoods with some of the state's highest concentrations of poverty, so logic might dictate that it would get more federal funding for each child from a low-income home in the city.

But it doesn't.


That distinction goes to Montgomery County, the state's wealthiest, with a poverty rate of 8 percent compared with 32 percent in Baltimore.

The difference isn't great. Montgomery County gets $1,765 per student from a low-income home, while Baltimore gets $26 less. But Baltimore schools get nearly double the amount of money overall because they have twice as many children living in poverty. The data was first reported in U.S. News and World Report.

Some say there is an equity issue rooted in the formula used to dole out $15 billion in federal Title I money to help schools with high numbers of low-income students. That money is for hiring additional teachers, buying more computers or creating a better curriculum — whatever principals believe will improve education for their students.

"I love Montgomery County. ... I am a resident of Montgomery County," said Liz King, director of education policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington. "As a Marylander and an American, I would like to see more money to educate our kids in Baltimore City."

The formula, which is really four formulas rolled into one, has been scrutinized by politicians for years. When Congress reauthorized the education law this year, legislators tried to change the formula for Title I to make it more equitable. But one of the alternatives would have taken tens of millions of dollars away from Maryland and other Northeastern and Midwestern states, said Jeff Simering, director of legislative services at the Council of Great City Schools. It failed.

Simering argues that Montgomery is an anomaly among the nation's 14,000 school districts that get Title 1 funding.

"There are only a dozen districts in that situation," Simering said. "About a third of them are in Maryland."

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's counties all have poverty rates of less than 20 percent, and yet, he said, they are allocated more money per low-income student than some of the poorest districts.

About a dozen factors are considered in the formula, including the amount of funding provided by the state, the number of low-income students in the district and the percentage of such students. Maryland school districts benefit from being large, and from the fact the state provides more funding than some districts in Southern states that have been reducing education spending.

The city receives $50 million a year in federal Title I funds, while Montgomery County gets about $26 million.