Schools are still feeling the effects of the Great Recession, which was followed by a dip in childbirths. Georgia bases its education funding for school districts on their enrollment, and that has basically been static, said Ted Beck, chief financial officer for the Georgia Department of Education. It’s up several thousand students this school year, a blip when compared with the overall enrollment of 1.75 million. Many districts saw a decline in enrollment as well as state funding.
“For evaluating the social value of charter schools, a more complete analysis of benefits and costs would be required,” Ladd and Singleton write. “That analysis would have to include any benefits from charter school expansion through greater choice for parents and children, as well as any additional costs in the form of, for example, greater racial or economic isolation.”
In our recent blog post, “How Districts Can Afford Quality Schools Despite Enrollment Decline,” Afton recognized the financial challenges of school districts facing enrollment decline with or without charter school growth, and provided actionable recommendations to balance finances effectively and align it with academic outcomes.
The state’s annual student count in September found about 6,000 more public school students than lawmakers had budgeted for when they passed the two-year state budget last year, potentially creating an $11.8 million gap in school funding. That would equate to cuts of about $11 per student, according to the analysis from the legislative services agency. The cuts would impact all schools that receive state dollars — traditional public, public charter and private schools receiving public vouchers.
Most of the district lies in Center Township, where the population has fallen by 194,424 since 1950 while the population of the surrounding townships more than tripled. The report also cites enrollment growth at charter schools and at private schools, which have benefited from Indiana’s voucher program. One of the nation’s largest, the program enables parents to use public funds to send their children to non-public schools.
Oklahoma: A revenue failure was declared for the current fiscal year, requiring cuts to state-appropriated agencies, including the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The school board and administrators associations estimate that because of student enrollment increases amid all reductions for the current year, schools have about $160 less to spend per student than they did in 2015-16.
Urban researchers who study intersections between education and community development find that planning efforts are seldom aligned—but perhaps they should be. After all, a stable population base is critical for school enrollment, and good schools build a stronger community. But political buy-in for community transformation as a means of school transformation can be difficult.
In recent years, smaller and rural school districts have been hit the hardest by declining revenue from the state, Turney said. As Indiana has moved towards a pay-per-pupil model, districts losing students also lose money and aren’t given time to adjust.
Several laws passed by the Legislature require towns to have conversations about voluntarily merging into larger school districts to deal with a significant loss of students across the state. Act 46 requires towns to meet and consider merging into larger school districts. Unification plans must be submitted to the state board and then must be approved by voters.
When charter schools expand, and more kids leave classrooms run by the School District of Philadelphia, it’s not as costly as previously estimated, although the total remains significant. That’s according to a much-anticipated report commissioned by the district in 2015, completed by the consultancy Afton Partners. Uri Monson, Chief Financial Officer for The School District of Philadelphia says in the district’s press release, “Some of the constraints that lead to stranded costs are partially controllable and can be mitigated with action by SDP, albeit via difficult actions such as layoffs and school closures. Continuing to grow and improve District-managed schools, and attracting students back to great schools near where they live, would also mitigate these fiscal challenges for the District.”
Schools with at least 51 percent Hispanic students saw 1.8 percent of their total budgets frozen, on average — that’s about twice the average rate of 0.9 percent frozen at schools with at least 51 percent of white students, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of the freezes. The schools that lost the highest percentage of their remaining spending power — 1.8 percent on average — also serve the very poorest children, where nine out of 10 students qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch that is shorthand for school poverty.