Articles in the Budgeting category

Panel discusses research and relevancy of school boards

NSBA  brought its executive director and two researchers to debate the relevancy of school board governance on Monday at its Federal Relations Network (FRN) conference. For audience members, though, there was no question that school boards are not just relevant, but a much-needed democratic institution.

One big challenge is the public’s lack of understanding the role that school boards play, said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s new executive director. He emphasized that school board members hold official roles, not volunteer positions.

“We need to tell our stories about what the issues are,” he said.

Thomas Alsbury, professor of educational administration and supervision at Seattle Pacific University, has studied governance in other countries, most recently Taiwan. He said centralized control often leads to a less equitable education, fewer entrepreneurial programs, and overzealous focus on standardized test scores—a fact not lost on more than 600 members in the audience. Alsbury said some countries are looking to the U.S. for guidance in revamping their school governance structures.

“The local school board has it right—they understand what communities need,” said Alsbury, author of The Future of School Board Governance: Relevance and Revelation.

Cynthia G. Brown, vice president for education policy at the Washington-based think tank Center for American Progress, was more critical. “Are [school boards] still relevant? Maybe,” she said. “It’s up to you to decide whether you want to remain relevant.”

Brown, who has advocated for more equitable state school funding formulas, believes school boards must do more to ensure equitable funding, services, and opportunities for all students. To remain relevant, she advised attendees to focus on student achievement and closing achievement gaps by implementing a strong curriculum and strengthening the role of teachers.

“The reality is the quality of a student’s education is dictated by their zip code, where they live, and that’s not your fault,” she said. But Brown riled the crowd when she insinuated that school boards do not distribute funding equitably within their districts and that state officials should control budgets and finance.

Gentzel and Alsbury noted that giving up fiscal responsibilities would erode local control, as state officials would use the purse strings to control other programs.

Alsbury noted that other countries funnel most of their funding to top-performing students, who are also most likely to be represented on international assessments. “The least equitable are the countries that are getting the top scores” on TIMSS and other international assessments, Alsbury said.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 28th, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Research|Tags: , , , |

Facts on vouchers to counter National School Choice Week

As the National School Choice Week begins, the Voucher Strategy Center at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) recommends several resources to counter arguments for vouchers and the privatization of K-12 education.

Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education (CPE), recently wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post outlining many of the problems with vouchers and other forms of choice that do not hold private and parochial schools accountable for their students’ learning. In  “School Choice Does Not Mean All Choices are Equal,” Barth  discusses recent research that shows many school options have not lived up to their promises, and instead merely drain resources and funds from each community’s public schools.

Barth also wrote a blog for CPE’s EDifier this week discussing recent allegations that a cybercharter school in Pennsylvania inflated enrollment numbers to gain taxpayer funds.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) is promoting a Twitter hashtag, #Vouchersfail, to share stories where school vouchers have proven problematic.

The AU has also set up a website, www.au.org/voucherFAIL, with research debunking propaganda being put forth by voucher proponents.

“No matter their motivation, these organizations share the same goal: shifting as many tax resources as possible from the public school system, which serves 90 percent of America’s schoolchildren, to private academies that play by their own rules and aren’t accountable to the taxpayer. Proponents of ‘School Choice Week’ would rather not talk about the many problems inherent in voucher programs,” the website states.

The Voucher Strategy Center also has resources and articles on the evolving field of school choice.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Conferences and Events, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Governance, Online learning, Policy Formation, Privatization, Public Advocacy, Religion, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , |

Fiscal cliff deal still leaves K-12 funding in limbo

Education funding received a two-month reprieve from across-the-board budget cuts under the fiscal cliff measure passed by Congress this week. The National School Boards Association is continuing its campaign during this critical time to protect K-12 programs from the proposed cuts that could significantly harm public education.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign a measure that would relieve many of the individual tax increases that were scheduled to go into effect on January 2 in plans to avoid the nation’s debt ceiling. The deal reached by House and Senate leaders and the White House in the final hours of 2012 delayed the issue of the across-the-board budget cuts, also known as sequestration, for federal agencies until early March.

“The pressure is now increasing on members of Congress to start identifying areas that can be cut,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy. “NSBA will be on Capitol Hill continuously lobbying legislators to protect education funding, as public schools cannot withstand any further cuts without significantly impacting their academic programs and student achievement.”

Working with NSBA and its state school boards associations, more than 600 school districts now have passed “stop sequestration” resolutions urging lawmakers to protect K-12 education funding as an investment in the nation’s economy.

Learn more about sequestration and the Budget Control Act of 2011, and actions that school board members can take to advocate for their school districts, at NSBA’s Stop Sequestration web page.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 3rd, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , |

Fiscal cliff cuts would further strain public schools, NSBA warns lawmakers

As lawmakers reconvene to discuss alternatives to the fiscal cliff, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is again urging Congress and President Barack Obama to forge a bipartisan solution that puts our children’s education first and protects their future, as well as the future of our country.

With the fiscal cliff looming, more than 600 school boards have passed resolutions urging Congress to stop the across-the-board cuts that would have a detrimental impact upon their school districts through the sequestration process. These federal cuts would total more than $4 billion this fiscal year. Furthermore, these cuts would continue over a 10-year period and greatly impact our schools, eroding the base of funding for key programs year after year.

“The federal cuts to education would be a regression to the progress our school districts have made in student achievement, from deep cuts to Title I grants for disadvantaged students and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to House-passed legislation that would impose mandatory reductions eliminating automatic eligibility of 280,000 low-income students for free school lunches,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Public Policy and Federal Advocacy.

K-12 education programs have already been reduced on the federal level with cuts to elementary and secondary education funding in Fiscal Year 2011. The ability to absorb additional budget cuts and provide an enhanced curriculum for all students is extremely limited for many school districts.

“An agreement is urgently needed now that protects education, as federal investments in education yield returns that result in greater productivity, global competitiveness, higher revenues, and increased employment,” said NSBA’s President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Board of Education.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 28th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , |

Kentucky district reassesses role of resource officers after Conn. shootings

Boone County Schools in Kentucky, home of National School Boards Association President C. Ed Massey, was featured in a Bloomberg story last week on the timely issue of arming school officials.

The National Rifle Association spurred a controversy on December 21 when it called for armed security guards in every U.S. public school in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Connecticut.

Boone County Schools has hired nine sheriff’s deputies, armed with Glock .40-caliber pistols and tasers, to patrol its 23 schools, according to Bloomberg. The school board determined the policy after a 17-year-old high school junior killed his parents and two sisters, then held a class hostage at his high school.

While the focus has been on preventing violence at the middle and high schools, Superintendent Randy Poe told Bloomberg that the district is considering shifting some of its officers’ time to elementary schools. “It’s a new day,” Poe said. “You have to think differently here.”

Boone County was also featured in a Dec. 23 story by the New York Post on the school safety.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 27th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Bullying, Crisis Management, Governance, High Schools, School Security|Tags: , , |

NSBA urges House to reject “Plan B” legislation to avoid fiscal cliff, GOP leaders cancel vote

A GOP-backed “fiscal cliff” compromise bill, which is opposed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), appeared to be in jeopardy when Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives abruptly cancelled a vote Thursday evening.

NSBA sent a letter to all House members of urging them to strike down the Budget Control Act, more commonly known as part of the “Plan B” legislation. The Budget Control Act would ease some of the tax hikes that are slated to occur on Jan. 2, 2013, but would also significantly cut K-12 education and other programs. The Washington Post reported that House leaders were unable to secure enough votes for passage.

The act of sequestration, across-the-board budget cuts that are scheduled as part of last year’s deficit reduction plan, would cut all federal education programs about 8.2 percent, or $82,000 for every $1 million a school district receives in federal funds. According to the Post, the lack of a vote “throws into chaos efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff, just 11 days before more than $500 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to take effect. Unless Congress acts, many economists predict the nation will again descend into a recession.”

The bill “would impose record budget cuts to elementary and secondary education programs, which would be well beyond the reductions legislated in the Budget Control Act,” the NSBA letter states. “From deep cuts to Title I grants for disadvantaged students and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to mandatory reductions that would eliminate automatic eligibility of 280,000 low-income students for free school lunches, these measures would be a regression to the progress our school districts have made in student achievement.”

NSBA is continuing to monitor any action by Congress. Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene on Dec. 27. For more information and resources, visit NSBA’s Stop Sequestration website.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 21st, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , |

School board leaders urge Washington officials to resolve the fiscal cliff

Sequestration is scheduled to take effect in three weeks, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging President Barack Obama and members of Congress to do everything in their power to protect K-12 education programs from the automatic budget cuts.

NSBA held a press call on Dec. 12 with school board members in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio to detail the impact of the so-called fiscal cliff on their schools. Those across-the-board cuts to federal spending, including education funds, are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2013 unless Congress and the White House can negotiate a new budget plan.

“This is a political failure that could lead to an educational catastrophe,” said NSBA President-elect David A. Pickler, a member of the Shelby County (Tenn.) Board of Education. “It would have the most profound impact on our most fragile and at-risk students,” given that the two largest federal K-12 programs—Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—benefit disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, he added.

Using budget figures from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, NSBA’s legislative advocacy department estimates public education would see cuts of about $4 billion in the next academic year; locally, that adds up to about $82,000 from every $1 million in federal funds that a school district receives. NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby noted that the cuts would continue for the next 10 budget cycles, and schools may also see ensuing cuts from state and local budgets.

School board members said that those cuts would lead to larger class sizes, cuts to research-based academic supplemental programs, after-school activities and summer school, and many extracurricular programs. And more teacher and staff layoffs will further hinder economic growth.

“We have tolerated cut after cut after cut,” said John Pennycuff, a school board member in Winton Woods City Schools in Cincinnati. Ohio schools have not seen state funding increase since 2009, and his teachers and superintendent have not received raises in several years, he said. At the same time, the poverty rate in his school district has increased 70 percent and the number of English Language learners has quadrupled.

Pennycuff urged his representative, Speaker of the House John Boehner, “Please do not do this to my students.”

If sequestration occurs, “All the advancements we’ve made in various reforms across the state will go into regression, almost overnight,” said NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Board of Education. “If we lose this ground, it will take decades to overcome.”

More than 430 school boards across the country have passed resolutions asking Congress and the White House to spare education funding from federal cuts.

To learn more about NSBA’s efforts and see sample resolutions, editorials, and other materials, go to the Stop Sequestration webpage at www.nsba.org/stopsequestration.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 12th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Boards|Tags: , , , |

NSBA takes first round of “Stop Sequestration” resolutions to Capitol Hill

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel presented Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with more than 360 resolutions that have been passed by local school boards across the country urging Congress to stop sequestration. During the December 4 meeting, Gentzel thanked Murray for her efforts and stated the concerns of local school boards regarding the impact of the impending federal budget cuts, also known as the “fiscal cliff.”

Thomas Gentzel and Sen. Patty Murray

Murray, a former school board member and a strong supporter of public education, is a key player in the debates on dealing with the proposed federal budget cuts, having co-chaired the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. In the upcoming the 113th Congress, she will chair the Senate Budget Committee.

In addition to the private meeting with Murray, NSBA staff also met with and presented the first round of resolutions to key House and Senate offices, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The resolutions were also presented to the White House on November 30.

NSBA received comments from both members of Congress and the Obama administration expressing a great appreciation for the resolutions and the details of the impact the budget cuts would have on local schools. White House and Congressional staff also noted an editorial published in the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico from NSBA President C. Ed Massey, which details how the across-the-board cuts would affect school districts.

NSBA’s Stop Sequestration webpage has more information on the proposed cuts, sample resolutions for school boards, and tools that school boards can use in local advocacy efforts to contact members of Congress and raise the level of awareness about sequestration in local communities. As the negotiations continue NSBA will continue to lobby members of Congress to “amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 5th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA President: Fiscal cliff would have a major impact on public education

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) President C. Ed Massey, a member of Kentucky’s Boone County Schools Board of Education, wrote a Nov. 28 article for Politico urging members of Congress to avoid the devastating impacts the scheduled federal budget cuts will have on public schools in his district and across the country. Politico is a leading Capitol Hill newspaper.

“As a local school board member, I see firsthand the impact of the planned reductions in federal funding for education,” Massey wrote. “The end result for many of our nation’s public schools would be larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, four-day school weeks, fewer extracurricular activities, less access to intervention programs and teacher/staff layoffs.”

The impact of sequestration, which is the automatic budget cuts scheduled to occur in all federal programs at the beginning of January under the deficit reduction act, would hit public education particularly hard given that schools already have seen years of reductions. NSBA’s “Stop Sequestration” website has numerous actions for local school board members to contact their members of Congress.

Massey cited several examples of districts that were planning to cut teacher jobs, reading and support programs for struggling students, and other programs critical for students’ academic success.

“Closing the doors of opportunity for our students is not an option for economic recovery and deficit reduction,” Massey continued. “I urge members of Congress to continue bipartisan negotiations that will produce a plan that respects the value of education, and I encourage them to protect the investments in the future of our county — our students and schools.

Share your thoughts through comments on Politico about how these federal cuts to education would affect your community.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 28th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

NSBA supports Louisiana school boards in voucher case

A lawsuit filed by school boards will determine the fate of Louisiana’s school voucher plan, which may already be jeopardized after a federal court ruling this week.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is supporting a lawsuit filed in state court by the Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA), the state’s main teachers’ organizations, and 43 school districts that challenges the constitutionality of a plan to provide vouchers to Louisiana students in low-performing schools. The first hearing on this lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, La. LSBA’s Legal Counsel Robert Hammonds will be arguing the case on behalf of LSBA’s members.

The law allows students to attend any private or parochial school that is approved by the Louisiana Department of Education, and many of these teach specific and in some cases extremist religious philosophies. Further, the program does little to hold these schools accountable for student learning or financial management of taxpayer funds—for instance, schools that accept less than 40 students with vouchers are not subject to rigorous accountability requirements for student achievement. State legislators and educators have questioned the state’s process to choose the private and parochial schools that are eligible for public funds, while state officials have launched an advertising campaign to promote the plan, which was pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

In a separate but related court ruling on Monday, a federal judge halted the voucher program in Tangipahoa Parish schools, saying that portions of Jindal’s education plan conflicts with a desegregation agreement because the school choice provisions would lead to more segregation in schools. That ruling in New Orleans-based U.S. District court could affect other school districts that are under desegregation orders. State superintendent John White has said the administration will appeal that ruling. It was unclear what the ruling would mean for the students who are already attending schools with vouchers this year.

In a letter to the editor of the The Advocate in Baton Rouge, LSBA Executive Director Scott Richard notes that the voucher program will siphon resources away from public schools with little or no accountability to local school district governance.

The program “is diminishing public school systems’ ability to provide necessary services for all students by diverting public funds to private and parochial entities under the guise of ‘choice,’” he wrote. “What’s wrong with giving parents a choice of where their children go to school under the current voucher program? The private or parochial schools that accept vouchers will not be held to high standards for students’ learning nor the taxpayer dollars they spend — if at all.”

Public schools—governed by local school boards—are best equipped to meet the needs of all students, Richard continued. But those schools need a resources to implement programs that will improve student achievement, including early education, strong interventions for students who are falling behind, and highly qualified teachers and staff.

“LSBA is not defending the status quo in our public schools,” Richard wrote. “We need our elected officials to commit to ensuring that Louisiana has the best public school system available to all of its families and the infrastructure to support it — for the sake of our children and our state.”

NSBA President C. Ed Massey will attend the state trial and bring a letter of support from NSBA to Baton Rouge at the start of the trial on Wednesday.

“It is clear this law was not created with the best interest of all children in mind; instead it promotes a narrow political agenda and will harm community public schools that serve the best interest of all children,” Massey said. “It also deprives the public schools of valuable resources that are necessary to carry out the mandate to provide a free and appropriate public education.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 27th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Diversity, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization, Public Advocacy, Religion, School Board News, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , |
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