Articles in the Budgeting category

OSBA: Results for Ohio school ballots “positive,” more districts look to voters for funds

Voters across Ohio approved 116 of 192 school tax issues during the Nov. 5 general election, the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) has reported.

“The overall results for this election are positive, with a 60 percent passage rate,” said OSBA Director of Legislative Services Damon Asbury. “It appears that our voting public understands that local support is a critical part of the school-funding equation.”

The passage rate for school issues on the ballot Tuesday is largely consistent with previous years. Faced with funding challenges, declining revenues and a difficult economy, many school districts are forced to turn to their local communities for support. Ohio schools that struggled on the ballot will likely be forced to make difficult budget decisions, including new rounds of cuts, OSBA leaders said.

“While there are signs the economy is improving in Ohio, many school districts in the state continue to experience funding challenges,” said OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis. “In many cases, school districts have no choice but to turn to their communities to help maintain the high-quality instruction and services residents have come to expect.”

Some school tax issues approved on Tuesday will not qualify for the 10 percent and 2.5 percent rollback property taxpayers have experienced for decades. The state budget approved by lawmakers this summer eliminated the rollback for new and replacement levies beginning in November. The rollback was adopted in conjunction with the implementation of the income tax in the 1970s; some school leaders worry its elimination will make ballot issues harder to pass. The elimination of the rollback means more of the tax burden will be shifted from the state to local residents.

Joetta Sack-Min|November 6th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , |

School boards encourage Congress to make education a priority following federal government shutdown

With the agreement to reopen the federal government and avert a debt default, Thomas J. Gentzel, the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association, released the following statement:

While there is now an agreement to fund the government until Jan. 15, 2014 and raise the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, 2014, the shutdown demonstrated a lack of leadership in the U.S. Congress and reflects a much larger and long-term problem on how the budget process is currently funding K-12 education programs.

Long term budget solutions are needed as Congress continues to pass budgets built on continuing resolutions with education programs funded at the same levels as the year before or cut because of sequestration. This process does not adequately fund the high-priority education programs that will impact student learning, and public schools across the U.S. deserve better from our leaders in Washington.

Future funding bills need to help sustain and continue public schools’ progress to improve student learning, increase graduation rates, and prepare all students for college and careers. It’s time for Congress to support their local schools districts and make education investments on behalf of America’s schoolchildren.

Additionally, now that the shutdown is over, the U.S. Senate needs to take action on its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Strengthening America’s Schools Act, S. 1094. School board members across the country are anxiously awaiting progress on this important legislation following the U.S. House of Representatives passing its version of ESEA reauthorization earlier this year.

Alexis Rice|October 16th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Federal Advocacy, School Boards|Tags: , , |

School boards call for adequate funding for public education, instead of government shutdown

With the federal government shutdown spurred by Congress’ lack of agreement on significant budget issues, Thomas J. Gentzel, the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association, released the following statement:

Much of the attention surrounding the federal government shutdown has revolved around the lack of agreement between parties on the Affordable Care Act. However, this shutdown reflects a much larger and long-term problem with Congress and the budget process for K-12 education programs.

For several years Congress has passed budgets built on continuing resolutions with education programs funded at the same levels as the year before or cut because of sequestration. This process does not adequately fund the high-priority education programs that will impact student learning, and public schools across the U.S. deserve better from our leaders in Washington.

The National School Boards Association urges Congress’ swift bipartisan action to pass a funding bill that will help sustain and continue public schools’ progress to improve student learning, increase graduation rates, and prepare all students for college and careers. As a key priority for our children, education investments should not be stalled because of partisanship.

Alexis Rice|October 1st, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , |

Kentucky district uses “Brain Bus” to stop summer learning loss

The following article was originally published by the Kentucky School Boards Association and was written by Madelynn Coldiron.

When kids run for the school bus, it’s usually because they’re late. When Henderson County Schools’ summer Brain Bus pulls into Woodsview Apartments, they run for a different reason.

“It’s a good idea – it gives them something to do. When they see that bus pull up, they run,” said resident Terrence Belle, whose fourth-grade son, Talyn, took advantage of the bus this year and last year as well.

The surplus school bus, its exterior festooned with colorful graphics, has been gutted and retrofitted with individual computer stations, where children can learn while having fun with games and other electronic activities.

National research shows children lose ground academically during the summer and “kids in poverty will lose more,” said Marganna Stanley, the district’s assistant superintendent for administration.

The Wi-Fi-enabled, air-conditioned mobile tech lab began making its rounds in 2011. It was the brainchild of a team from a community leadership program whose members included several then-school district employees who were concerned about the dip in student scores between spring and fall.

Knowing that some children would not have transportation, “we thought, why not take it to them,” said Ellen Redding, former district employee who now works for Northwest Kentucky Forward.

The leadership program raised funds and got donations of laptops and other supplies and services for the bus, which was donated by the district. The program now is fully under the school system’s aegis.

During June and July, the Brain Bus targets mostly low-income areas where large numbers of children reside. It spends two hours at each of the eight stops over a four-day week. However, the schedule is flexible. Bus driver John Haynes, who also is a substitute teacher, said a crowd isn’t always guaranteed. In some spots, he said, few turn out and in other locations, kids are “lined up waiting for a computer.”

This year one site didn’t draw any participants so the district switched to another location.

That wasn’t the case at Woodsview, where sisters Madalynn and Shelby Terrell were among those climbing aboard.

“It’s great – it’s entertaining and you get to spend time with your friends,” third-grader Shelby Terrell said. Fifth-grader Alexis Sutton, meanwhile, not only played games herself, but helped younger students with theirs.

“We’ve had anywhere from kids who are just going into preschool to a few high schoolers,” said newly certified teacher Rachel O’Nan, who is stationed on the bus. “Every time we come, we get a couple of new ones.”

The district will track the performance of students who used the Brain Bus this summer to try to gauge the academic effect. The community leadership program did that last year, Redding said, and found “We had over 60 percent had an increase in their test scores – both math and reading. Those were just the kids we could track. We just looked at an increase in scores – we didn’t even look at the ones that stayed the same, and in reality those scores that stayed the same is still a win because they didn’t fall back.”

Children are on the bus a relatively short time, so the kind of progress they might make in a regular summer school offering is not possible, Stanley said.

“It’s voluntary so a student might have two hours a week (on the Brain Bus), maximum,” she said. “If they stay where they are or increase, we would be very pleased.”

There are also less empirical benefits, she said: “You can’t really measure this, but increasing their love of learning.”

O’Nan said the experience also helps those without computers or Internet access at home feel more comfortable with technology in a setting where they aren’t afraid to ask questions.

The Brain Bus was put to use for adults when the district wanted to show parents who work at one of the area’s large employers how Infinite Campus can be used to access their children’s records and grades. The plant didn’t have a computer lab-type setup available, “so we thought, ‘We have a lab on wheels’” Stanley said, and brought the bus to the factory.

This summer, in addition to its regular rounds, the bus visited a Boy Scout day camp at the group’s request.

“I think we’ll find lots of ways to use it,” Stanley said.

Well-established research shows that students generally score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer break compared with the same tests they took at the beginning of summer.

In math computation, most students lose about two months of grade- level equivalency over the summer months.

Low-income students lose more than two months of grade-level equivalency in reading achievement over the summer. Middle-class students, however, gain slightly.

Unequal access to summer learning opportunities can be the culprit in more than half the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth.

Source: The National Summer Learning Association, citing numerous studies

Joetta Sack-Min|August 27th, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Budgeting, Educational Research, Educational Technology, School Board News|Tags: |

NSBA expresses concerns on House K-12 budget proposal

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is disappointed in the House of Representatives’ proposed fiscal 2014 budget for K-12 programs and is calling on House members to restore funding.

The budget would create “devastating” cuts to many education programs, including $4.5 billion cuts to Title I and the main federal special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, if the budget cuts were to be applied across the board, according to NSBA.

In a July 24 letter to members of the House Appropriations Committee, NSBA wrote, “Local school boards have grave concerns over the Subcommittee’s overall 302(b) funding allocation that would impose greater budget cuts to programs implemented at the local school district level. Local school boards are also concerned that federal funding to support K-12 education is being significantly reduced at a time when there should be increased investments in our nation’s future.”

The NSBA letter refers to the overall subcommittee allocation, which was approved by the full committee more than a month ago.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 25th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

NSBA praises Senate bill to boost K-12 funding

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) supports a budget plan passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee that would increase funding for K-12 education, including Title I grants and special education. Most importantly, the bill would reverse the automatic budget cuts that will impact all K-12 education programs by this fall, known as sequestration.

A July 10 letter sent to all Senators noted that the proposed fiscal 2014 budget blueprint would help sustain targeted investments, and praised its increases to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the main federal special education law, and early education. “Protecting baseline funding for these priorities, and providing the increases needed to help address existing shortfalls, will help our school districts and states avoid reductions to the scope and delivery of education services and advancement,” the letter states. However, more money for IDEA is needed, the letter adds.

The bill also emphasizes early education by allotting a $1.6 billion increase for Head Start, including funds to expand Early Head Start and build a new Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships to serve children and families from before birth through age 3.

According to NSBA’s advocacy team, Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said that she will push to get the bill on the Senate floor for debate. The last time an education funding bill was debated by the Senate was 2007, she stated.

The House Appropriations Committee has adopted an overall allocation for the Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee that could reduce funding for education by more than 18 percent, which would equate to more than a $4.5 billion cut to Title I grants and special education, according to NSBA’s advocacy team. The future of that measure is uncertain.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|July 12th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , , |

National school leadership organizations urge “adequate time” for Common Core implementation

States and school districts need adequate time, professional development, and the technical infrastructure to properly transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the assessment requirements, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the major organizations representing school administrators say in a joint statement on the issue.

“Strong educational standards can be an important tool for improving student achievement, but states and school districts must be well prepared to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “For the standards to succeed, states and school districts must have the financial resources and the infrastructure to manage online assessments, and they must be able to provide school administrators and teachers with the professional development.”

NSBA, AASA (the School Superintendents Association), the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals wrote the document. It notes that states and districts face “very real obstacles” to align their curricula with the new standards and administer the required tests.

“Getting this transition right can mean the difference between getting and keeping public and educator support for the Common Core or a loss in confidence in the standards and even the public schools, especially if as expected the first-year scores will disappoint,” the statement notes.

There are further technical challenges surrounding the online assessments, which are scheduled to be put in place in 2014-15–including bandwidth, infrastructure and professional development. The concept of online assessments is widely supported by educators, but the timeline “could derail the good work already in place through the CCSS and deny the assessments the opportunity to provide the same academic benefits,” according to the document.

Currently 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the CCSS. In supporting the development of the CCSS, NSBA believes that the standards should be adapted voluntarily by the states and not mandated as a condition for receiving federal education program funds.

Alexis Rice|May 29th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Federal Programs, National Standards, Policy Formation, Public Advocacy, School Boards, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

NSBA, Impact Aid districts warn of consequences of federal budget cuts

Federal budget cuts are coming for every school district this fall—but the reality of teacher layoffs and program cuts already are here for school districts that receive Impact Aid.

Two district officials who already have endured the first round of scheduled cuts shared their experiences in a teleconference organized by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS).

NSBA is continuing to lobby Congress through its grassroots network to stop or mitigate sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board cuts that took place when Congress failed to pass a budget in March.

“We urge Congress to develop a plan that not only protects education as a civil right but also as a national security interest,” said NSBA President David A. Pickler, who added that while “federal dollars are going away, the mandates remain.”

Pickler, a member of the Shelby County school board in Memphis, said his district plans to lay off instructional coaches, who work with struggling learners and help prepare students for tests, and behavioral interventionists, who help students with significant behavioral issues.

Impact Aid, the fund that reimburses school districts that lose tax revenue because of federally controlled land, was the only major K-12 program that saw immediate budget cuts; other K-12 programs will be pared down about 5 percent beginning Oct. 1 and will see scheduled decreases over the next 10 years. Some Impact Aid districts have had to cut academic programs, teachers, and paraprofessionals in the middle of the school year.

Karen Gray, the president of the Silver Valley Unified School District’s board, said the district’s preschool that serves many special-needs children had seen the brunt of this year’s cuts. The Yermo, Calif., school district includes a military base, and educating students whose parents are deployed creates additional challenges, Gray noted.

“Our board and staff continuously adjust our finances,” she said. The district has avoided teacher layoffs so far by eliminating jobs through attrition.

Roy Nelson, a school board member in the Red Lake Independent School District in Red Lake, Minn., said his district had eliminated seven teacher jobs and three paraprofessional jobs and scaled back elementary music and tutoring programs.

Parents, though, are concerned about school safety given last year’s shootings in Connecticut and a shooting in 2005 that killed seven students at a Red Lake high school, Nelson said. But the district cannot afford to hire more security guards.

More than 700 school boards have passed resolutions asking Congress to pass a budget that fully funds K-12 education programs. Go to NSBA’s Stop Sequestration webpage for more information and sample resolutions.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|May 23rd, 2013|Categories: Arts Education, Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Boards|Tags: , , , , |

Marketplace Fairness Act could help schools gain sales tax revenues, NSBA says

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging lawmakers to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require all online or catalog companies collect taxes from internet purchases. The measure would allow states and local governments to collect an estimated $23 billion per year that could be used to address budget shortfalls in education and other priorities.

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the legislation on May 8. The bill is sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and would require online retailers to collect and remit sales and use taxes to states and local governments, commensurate to brick-and-mortar businesses. Overall, S. 743 seeks to level the playing field between online retailers and local “Main Street” retailers, thereby establishing a level of parity and addressing erosion of local and state tax systems.

The bipartisan bill would allow states and local governments to collect an estimated $23 billion per year that could be used to address budget shortfalls in education and other priorities. S. 743 would exclude small online retailers with annual revenues less than $1 million.

Under the legislation, each state that is a part of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement would be authorized to collect remote sales and use taxes. Likewise, states that are not a member under the Agreement could collect remote sales and use taxes, provided they implement simplification requirements such as establishing a single entity responsible for tax administration, return processing and audits and establishing a uniform sales and use tax base among a state and its local taxing jurisdictions.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|May 3rd, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Policy Formation|Tags: , |

District inequities and school safety post-Newtown in the April issue of ASBJ

Uneven funding among affluent and poor school districts is well-documented, but you may not realize that it often occurs among schools in the same district, as well. Senior Editor Del Stover looks at how school leaders are uncovering these funding inequities and how they are fighting the often-difficult political battle to remedy the situation in his April American School Board Journal article, online now.

Also in April, national school safety expert Ronald Stephens weighs in on sensible and commonsense ways that school boards can and should react in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings last December.

Our school board success story series, Agents of Change, continues with a Massachusetts school board and superintendent who made a controversial decision to bring its special education program in-house.

Make sure to post your opinion to this month’s Adviser poll, also online at ASBJ’s website.

 

Kathleen Vail|April 2nd, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Budgeting, Diversity, Leadership, School Security, Special Education|Tags: |
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