Good schools can greatly influence the economic vitality of a neighborhood by improving home values and attracting higher income residents. These residents in turn attract businesses and improve the overall economic development of the town. By channeling additional funds to a struggling school, the impact extends far beyond improved test scores, into the overall economic health of the entire community.
Rep. Johnson is proposing legislation to create education empowerment zones that will provide additional funds targeted at struggling schools. These funds would be dedicated to specialized tasks like tutoring and after school programs, school supplies, and technology upgrades and could help ameliorate some of the challenges faced by schools in lower income areas. In order to qualify for these zones, the school district must commit matching funds and would be allowed to retain a certain amount of the state tax revenue from the zone.