Increases in special-education costs in Pennsylvania are far outpacing increases in the state’s contributions to those expenses, leaving local school districts to pick up bigger shares of the tabs, according to a report released Tuesday. The report said the widening divide between special-education costs and state funding “forces local school boards to choose between raising additional revenue to meet funding gaps, spreading limited resources across a range of programs, and/or reducing needed services and supports for students with disabilities.” Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, said some school districts have reduced resources for regular education programs in order to pay for required special-education expenses.
About 132 million girls worldwide aged 6 to 17 do not attend school, while fewer than two-thirds of those in low-income nations finish primary school, and only a third finish lower secondary school, the World Bank said. If every girl in the world finished 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion, according to the report. Other positive impacts of completing secondary school education for girls include a reduction in child marriage, lower fertility rates in countries with high population growth, and reduced child mortality and malnutrition, the World Bank said.
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.