Strained Schools Face Bleak Future: Districts Foresee Budget Cuts, Teacher Layoffs, and a Slowing of Education Reform Efforts
When it comes to school funding, this latest Center for Education Policy survey report shovels more bad news onto the already massive mound. A sample of 450 districts finds that about 70 percent faced funding cuts in 2010-11; of those, 85 percent cut jobs for teachers or other staff. When asked what next year holds, 60 percent of districts expecting decreased revenues are planning layoffs in response. The survey also delves specifically into district management of federal stimulus dollars—and emerges with some disheartening results. Districts mostly spent their ARRA money on protecting fringe benefits and administrative staff while firing teachers in non-core subjects and slashing investments in technology and instructional materials. Further, “reform initiatives” suffered: Two-thirds of those with decreased funding also reined them in (though the authors never define what they include in those initiatives). Unfortunately, the survey’s format raises more questions than it answers, giving no sense of the depth of cuts or the scale of new investments. And forget about questions regarding productivity enhancement. Nearly every district will be affected by the funding cliff next year, but, from this survey, it’s hard to tell how many districts have retooled and cut baseline spending and how many are just laying off teachers and waiting out this financial storm.
|Click to listen to commentary on the CEP district survey from the Education Gadfly Show podcast
Nancy Kober and Diane Stark Rentner, “Strained Schools Face Bleak Future: Districts Foresee Budget Cuts, Teacher Layoffs, and a Slowing of Education Reform Efforts,” (Washington, D.C.: Center for Education Policy, June 2011).
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