While most people understand K-12 education spending in terms of average district per-pupil amounts, how districts distribute federal, state and local dollars between schools has long been a mystery even to district superintendents. But many have theorized that seeing distribution levels by school can reveal to the public how (or whether) money boosts academic results and whether money is being spent as intended.
To those paying attention, the recent strikes for higher teachers’ pay in West Virginia and Oklahoma are a harbinger of things to come. Youcan attribute the strikes to the stinginess of the states’ political leaders. After all, average annual teachers’ salaries in these states ranked, respectively, 49th-lowest (Oklahoma at $45,276) and 48th-lowest (West Virginia, $45,622) in 2016, reports the National Education Association. But that’s the superficial explanation. The deeper cause is that teachers — and schools — are competing with the elderly for scarce funds.
The budget shows Alabama’s economy is recovering after the recession, something Poole said is very significant. Alabama has lagged behind other states in recovering from the Great Recession, and has been identified as one of the top five states with the highest cuts to K-12 and higher education funding.
A recent report from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute outlined safety concerns related to aging school bus fleets. “Shrinking state funding for student transportation and rising costs are making it more difficult for school districts across Georgia to get children to and from school safely,” the report states. “The worsening financial pinch leaves districts with aging bus fleets on the road past their intended life, concerns about student safety and far fewer dollars to invest in the classroom.”
While funding sources have shifted over the years, the actual dollar amount of state appropriations has essentially remained flat with fiscal 1998 funding levels nearly equal to the amount appropriated to the universities in fiscal 2018. In that same time period, enrollment has spiked, meaning on a per-student basis, financial support for higher education has not kept pace with growth; the amount of available monetary resources hasn’t changed much, but that dollar amount has to be spread among more students. In the fall of 2000, the regents reported an enrollment of 68,930, and in fall 2017, that number rose to 80,066.
Texas pre-K programs are just scraping by after losing millions of dollars last year — and without sustainable funding, they could see greater problems down the line, school officials say…The money had gone to 573 districts and charter schools that pledged to meet measures such as setting a lower student-teacher ratio, avoiding Common Core curricula and reporting student progress to the state.
Teachers are paid less than comparable workers with similar education levels, an Economic Policy Institute analysis of federal data shows. Since 1996, teachers’ weekly wages have decreased $30 per week to $1,092 in 2015, while all college graduates’ average weekly wages have increased $124 to reach $1,416. Those numbers are adjusted for inflation. However, non-wage benefits as a share of total compensation are more important for teachers than for other professionals. Non-wage benefits can include prepaid insurance premiums and pensions.
The walkout in Oklahoma — which could stretch for days — is part of a wave of educator revolts striking states where tax cuts have drained state funding for schools. In Kentucky, teachers rallied Monday in Frankfort, the state capital, against teacher pension reforms, shutting down schools in a dozen districts. In Arizona, teachers have threatened to strike if they do not get a 20 percent raise and an infusion of money into schools.
Will Texas school finance panel tell schools to do more with less? Some members think it’s predetermined
He said the commission has also heard from school leaders with innovative ideas on subjects such as how to keep the best teachers at the most challenging schools and how to use full-day pre-K to get students at an academic baseline early in life. “Those two things without question cannot be funded or sustained with the current funding levels we have,” Bernal said. “Even the districts that piloted it said they were about to run out of money.”
The change is expected to save the district about $1 million a year, but Brighton Superintendent Chris Fiedler previously told Chalkbeat that the biggest benefit will be “to attract and retain teachers” in a district whose salaries are among the lowest in the metro area. “I realize this will be a significant change for our students, their families, and the communities we are so fortunate to serve, but our district can no longer be expected to do more with less financial resources,” Fiedler said in a press release.