New historical federal data shows school spending in recent years continued to climb as state and local sales, income and property tax revenue rebounded. The National Center for Education Statistics this week reported that K-12 revenue was up 3.2 percent between fiscal years 2015 and 2016 and spending in fiscal year 2016 climbed 2.4 percent to around $10,800 per student. The report provides an annual detailed look at the most recently available federal, state, and local spending on districts across the country. While lagging by three years, it shows that K-12 revenue and spending since the recession continued to tick upward for rural, suburban and urban districts across the country.
Roza: DeVos proposed $50 million for districts to decentralize federal money, to put schools in the driver’s seat. It’s a smart idea.
A provision that could bring more autonomy to schools in how they serve their most vulnerable students has been largely overlooked — $50 million in incentive grants for districts to decentralize their federal dollars to schools. At issue is whether school leaders and staff can have a say in how federal resources are used in their buildings for their students. Under the status quo, the heavy red tape attached to federal dollars presumes a top-down approach to spending decisions in which district leaders make all the programming and staffing decisions for schools. This process virtually erases school leaders from playing a role in decisions on how best to use the federal money in their buildings. The budget proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would reverse that through a pilot program for up to 10 decentralized districts that would send federal dollars directly to schools, putting principals and teachers in the driver’s seat on how to spend those dollars.
Research finds Pre-K enrollment, spending stagnant, as key federal early learning grants are about to dry up
Overall, about one-third of the country’s 4-year-olds and less than 6 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded programs in the 2017-18 school year, according to…an annual report by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Those numbers represent small increases from the previous year, with “much of the increase” in enrollment of 4-year-olds coming from federal Preschool Development Grants, the report found. Those federal funds, which went to 18 states, are coming to an end this year; the grants were announced in December 2014 and paid out over four years. “Those grants go away this year … States are going to have to find a way to fill that budget hole,” Steven Barnett, co-director of the institute, said on a webinar with reporters Tuesday. About half of the 18 states that received the grants, which totaled $244 million last year, have plans to sustain the funding through other sources, he said.
Count educators as part of the population taking a keen interest in a major U.S. Supreme Court case about whether President Donald Trump’s administration properly added a question about U.S. citizenship to the 2020 census. The arithmetic behind the issue is this: The decennial census is the foundation for allocation of billions of dollars of federal aid to states and localities, based on formulas involving population and poverty. A federal district judge in January found that adding a citizenship question to the census would lead to a decline in the response rate of at least 5.8 percent of households with at least one noncitizen and would also likely result in an undercount of Hispanic households. The Great City Schools council says in its brief that a 5.8 percent undercount of households with one noncitizen would—by itself—result in a “misallocation” nationwide of $151.7 million in Title I funds alone. An accurate count “is especially important for public schools, who serve all students, regardless of immigration status,” said Francisco M. Negrón Jr., the general counsel of the National School Boards Association.
This paper explores how the Title I program fits into today’s educational landscape and how it can evolve to better meet the needs of the students the program was designed to serve…Our federal lawmakers must improve the Title I program, given the rise of parental choice in education, the limited transparency in current Title I funding formulas, and the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of the Title I program as currently designed. One innovative solution would be to make federal aid to low-income students portable to their school of choice – this paper explores the potential impact of this approach in a state-based case study.
The Trump administration is looking to decrease the Education Department’s funding by $7.1 billion compared to what it was given last year, as part of next year’s proposed budget. The budget proposal suggests eliminating 29 programs, including after-school and summer programs for students in high-poverty areas, among other things. The budget proposal is unlikely to pass through Congress – especially with Democrats in control of the House, however, it is a glimpse into the Trump administration’s priorities going into the next fiscal year. The proposed budget includes DeVos’ school choice platform by asking for an increase in $60 million for the Charters Schools Program. The budget also requests $700 million for school safety measures from multiple agencies, including the Education Department, the Justice Department and Health and Human Services.
The American Federation of Teachers, the 1.7 million-member teachers union, announced a major education initiative Monday aimed at pressing lawmakers in state capitals and Congress to increase funding for public schools and universities. The initiative, Fund Our Future, focuses on the fact that 25 states spend less on K-12 than they did before the Great Recession in 2008 and 41 states spend less on higher education. It calls on state lawmakers to prioritize education and higher education spending, especially for the most disadvantaged students, including students of color, students with disabilities and those still learning English.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday pitched a $5 billion federal tax credit that would fund scholarships to private schools and other educational programs, throwing her weight behind what will be a difficult legislative undertaking to fund the Trump administration’s signature education initiative. Ms. DeVos will join Republican lawmakers in championing legislation that would allow states to opt into a program that provides individual and corporate donors dollar-for-dollar tax credits for contributing to scholarship programs that help families pay private-school tuition and other educational expenses. The program would also allow states the flexibility to fund other programs, like apprenticeship, dual enrollment, after-school and remedial programs.
Though the guidance does not require a spending test, it does require all districts to provide an allocation methodology. This is a spending rationale articulating how the district divvies up its funds across schools – something that’s missing in most districts. District leaders and school board members often don’t recognize the enormity of their role in deciding how to spend the country’s $650 billion public education budget. Many may not have ever articulated an approach to apportioning their public funds, or even thought through the range of options. Hopefully this requirement will prompt them to explore whether their budgets reflect an intentional strategy, habit, or something else.
House Democrats unveil $100B school facility upgrade bill, urge inclusion in long-sought bipartisan infrastructure deal
Congressional Democrats introduced a bill to spend $100 billion on improving school infrastructure. Spending on improvements to schools, congressional Democrats said, should be part of any large-scale infrastructure bill, like the one President Donald Trump has proposed. “Every day across districts in America, students and educators attend schools that are either unsafe or lack basic resources, or both, and this is simply unacceptable,” Rep. Bobby Scott, the Democratic chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, said at a press conference in Washington. The bill, dubbed the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, would put $70 billion in grants and $30 billion in bonds toward improving schools, with a priority given to the schools in worst condition and those serving high numbers of low-income students. Funds could also be used for technology upgrades.