Articles in the Budgeting category

School boards warn of effects of “fiscal cliff”

If the so-called fiscal cliff occurs, school districts across the country will see larger classes, fewer teachers and program specialists, a decline in professional development, and potentially devastating cuts to programs that help disadvantaged students.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) hosted a media conference call to discuss the looming “fiscal cliff” and the impact it could have on federal K-12 programs. More than 200 school districts have passed resolutions urging Congress to spare education programs, which collectively make up less than 1 percent of the total federal budget.

Federal education programs face an estimated cut of 8.2 percent or more on Jan. 2, 2013, according to estimates by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, unless Congress takes action to cancel those cuts. These cuts are scheduled to occur through a process called sequestration, defined as the automatic, across-the-board cancellation of budgetary resources, which was put into place last year through a deal to avoid lifting the debt ceiling. Aside from Impact Aid, school districts would not see any impact until the 2013-14 school year because federal education programs are funded in advance.

But already, school board members say they are beginning their budget processes and cannot accurately plan until the issue is resolved. Currently, for every $1 million in federal aid a school district receives, NSBA estimates that $82,000 would be cut–more than the cost of one experienced teacher.

The cuts would not end in 2013, either, NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby said. Sequestration is slated to take place over the next 10 budget cycles with varying percentages of cuts, totaling $1.2 to $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Further, school districts would likely see state and local revenues decline because those governments would receive less money for programs outside of education.

“These cuts to our schools would be devastating and would hurt student achievement,” Rigsby said.

Jill Wynns, a school board member in the San Francisco Unified School District, said that districts across her state had seen decreases of 20 to 24 percent since 2008, and sequestration would impose another $387 million cut. Districts have been allowed to use state funds designated for disadvantaged students and specialized programs such as career and technical education to cover basic operating costs.

“Federal cuts would devastate these programs,” Wynns said. “We’re talking about actual programs for real students, teachers’ jobs—investments for our future.”

Dozens of school districts are bordering on insolvency, she added.

In Ft. Cobb, Okla., many students and adults rely on technical schools to learn new skills and improve their employment prospects, said Dustin Tackett, president of the Caddo Kiowa Technology Center Board of Education.

And in Charlottesville, Va., a district that would see immediate effects because it receives federal Impact Aid funds, sequestration cuts would likely eliminate teacher jobs, said school board member Juandiego Wade.

“All we’ve known the last four to five years are cuts, and we’ve already cut to the bone,” he said. “We feel like we’re under attack.”

NSBA is asking school districts across the country to pass resolutions as soon as possible to send the message to Congress that sequestration would significantly harm their schools. Members of Congress are meeting this week and may take action on a compromise plan in coming days, said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s director of federal advocacy and public policy.

To learn more about NSBA’s efforts to prevent sequestration, and actions that local school board members can take at the grassroots level, go to

Joetta Sack-Min|November 15th, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference to feature Geena Davis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Diane Ravitch

Registration and housing for the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 73rd Annual Conference, to be held April 13 to 15 in San Diego, is now open. Join more than 5,000 school board members and administrators for an event with hundreds of sessions, workshops, and exhibits that will help your school district programs and help you hone your leadership and management skills.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

Special discounted rates are available for early registrants who sign up by Jan. 10, 2013. NSBA National Affiliate and Technology Leadership Network Districts save even more.

View the conference brochure for more details. Be sure to check the Annual Conference website for updates and more information.



New voucher study doesn’t live up to hype, NSBA says

A new study released today by the Brookings Institute and Harvard University researcher Paul E. Peterson shows that low-income students who participated in a three-year voucher program in New York City in the late 1990s overall fared no better in college enrollments than their peers in public schools. However, the study found that African-American students did attend college at higher rates than those who did not receive vouchers.

Although the study was relatively small and narrowly focused, the authors and voucher proponents are using it to lobby for expanding voucher programs across the country. Peterson and researcher Matthew M. Chingos published an editorial in The Wall Street Journal calling on the Obama administration to support the voucher program for students in Washington D.C. Their claims have been challenged by the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

“The grandiose statements made in the executive summary are not substantiated by the data,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. One undetermined factor, she added, is the level of parental involvement with a child’s education, which research shows makes a significant difference in the child’s academic achievement.

“Clearly the parents who chose this program were dedicated, and parent involvement is key,” Bryant said.

The study examined longitudinal data from the privately funded New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program, which offered three-year scholarships of up to $1,400 each year to as many as 1,000 low-income families. Those vouchers were primarily used at Catholic schools, and in most cases parents also paid a portion of the tuition. However, 22 percent of the students who were offered a voucher never used it, and most of the students returned to public schools for reasons unknown, some after the first or second year, noted Jim Hull, senior policy analyst for NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

Several of the report’s methodologies are particularly troublesome, he noted:

  • The study neither isolates the impact of private schools nor school choice on students going to college;
  • The study never took into account what happened to those students who left the voucher program to return to the public school;
  • Results do not show that expanding vouchers programs will necessarily result in higher college going rates for low-income students in urban schools, even black students;
  • While the findings about African-American students appear impressive, the actual impact may in fact be minimal due to a large margin of error. An offer of a voucher may only increase a black student’s chances of going to college by as little as .4 percentage points but could be as large as increasing their chances by 13.8 percentage points. A more robust study is needed to more precisely determine the true impact that a voucher offer has on the enrollment of black students in college;
  • The more years a student uses a voucher does not necessarily mean a student is more likely to go on to college.

NSBA opposes publicly-funded vouchers for private schools because such programs abandon public schools, which are required to serve all students regardless of abilities, and eliminate public accountability for those tax dollars. Read more in NSBA’s issue brief.


Joetta Sack-Min|August 23rd, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Reports, School Board News, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA shows how Race to the Top hurts small districts

Lucy Gettman, director of federal programs at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), recently spoke to The Atlantic about the recent announcement of the Race to the Top federal grants for school districts. Gettman noted that the competitive grant program tends to put small, high poverty, and rural school districts at a disadvantage with its lengthy application process.

The author, Emily Richmond, the public editor for the Education Writers Association, has shared her question-and-answer session with Gettman on EWA’s EdMedia Commons website, which is designed to help reporters covering education.

NSBA was pleased that the U.S. Department of Education dropped its plans to require a school board evaluation as part of the process, but remains concerned about other provisions of the program. Read the interview at EdMedia Commons.



Joetta Sack-Min|August 21st, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Race to the Top (RTTT)|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA and federal officials warn that sequestration will damage public schools

The U.S. Department of Education says that sequestration would not affect 2012-13 school year budgets, except for districts that receive Impact Aid funds.

However, sequestration—the across-the-board budget cuts slated to occur in all federal discretionary programs in Jan. 2013—could have a profound impact on K-12 budgets beginning in the 2013-14 school year, according to the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

A July 20 memo from U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Anthony Miller to chief state school officers said that because most K-12 grants to states are given in October, the impact is not expected to occur until the next fiscal year and school districts should not withhold funds in anticipation of mid-year cuts. The sequestration will occur on Jan. 2, 2013 under the Budget Control Act of 2011 unless Congress and the White House approve a different plan to deal with the nation’s debt ceiling.

But the law ultimately could have an “unprecedented impact” on K-12 funding, NSBA officials say.

While news that funding for the 2012-13 school year appears to relieve immediate concerns, “it does not take the pressure off to do something,” says Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy. If Congress temporarily delays the Jan. 2 deadline of sequestration, district officials will still be operating in limbo as they prepare their budgets for the 2013-14 school year this spring. And a cut—estimated at 7.8 percent—would severely hinder school budgets.

The 1,192 districts that receive federal Impact Aid funds, which total $1.2 billion this year, would see reductions immediately, according to Miller.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies also held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the impact of cuts to non-defense programs. A report released by the committee’s Democratic leaders said that they have been pressured to exempt defense programs from the sequestration, and either find offsets for those programs or have other programs bear the full brunt of what is estimated to be a $1.2 trillion cut. If defense programs are excluded, other agencies would see cuts of up to 17.6 percent, according to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and chairman of the subcommittee.

The subcommittee report notes that, “States and local communities would lose $2.7 billion in Federal funding for just three critical education programs alone – Title I, special education state grants, and Head Start – that serve a combined 30.7 million children. Nationwide, these cuts would force 46,349 employees to either lose their jobs or rely on cash-strapped states and localities to pick up their salaries instead.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warned of dire cuts at the subcommittee hearing. When asked what would be his priorities to cut under sequestration, Duncan responded that the Department would have no flexibility to determine which programs would be cut, that any cuts would be across-the-board.

NSBA submitted questions and a letter to the subcommittee on July 23.

“More than $835 million was cut from federal elementary and secondary education programs in FY2011 as a result of the series of continuing resolutions and the final appropriations bill. Another budget cut would be counterproductive to student achievement gains and local and national economies, thereby affecting sustainability and growth,” Resnick wrote.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 26th, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , , |

NSBA in the News: Southern school boards show successes

Mississippi  Public Broadcasting reported on the National School Boards Association’s Southern regional meeting, held this week in Biloxi, Miss. School board members from 12 states discussed issues such as finance and graduation rates and shared their success stories.

Read the story at MPB Online.


Erin Walsh|July 25th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Leadership, NSBA Recognition Programs|Tags: , |

House bill protects Title I, IDEA funds but cuts other K-12 programs

The U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee for education appropriations has approved a funding bill for Fiscal Year 2013 that includes a cut of more than $1 billion to K-12 programs. However, the bill would provide a $500 million increase for special education and would maintain current funding for Title I grants.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) lobbied for increases to both special education and Title I grants. Earlier this week an action alert to school board members asked them to contact their representatives and urge them to develop a balanced budget that protects education investments, in lieu of the across-the-board cuts (a.k.a. sequestration) that are scheduled to occur in January 2013 because of the Budget Control Act.

The bill, passed July 18, would eliminate the School Improvement Grants ($534 million), Race to the Top ($549 million), and Investing in Innovation grants ($149 million).

The House Appropriations Committee may consider the subcommittee bill next week, according to NSBA’s legislative advocacy department. If the legislation is not considered on the House floor, it’s likely that an education funding bill would be included in a larger appropriations bill later this year. NSBA will continue to lobby for increases in special education and Title I in a final funding bill.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 19th, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|

Pennsylvania, NY reports raise concerns about charter and SES funding

Reports have surfaced in recent days that have state policymakers in Pennsylvania and New York taking a harder look at the money going into charter schools and federally funded tutoring programs.

Pennsylvania “could save $365 million each year if it fixed the state’s flawed formula for funding cyber and charter schools,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Those projected savings—which other news accounts suggest are closer to $300 million—are based on a report by state Auditor General Jack Warner, who estimates that Pennsylvania spends an average of $13,400 to educate every charter school student. That figure is about $3,000 more per student than the national average.

More information about the funding and academic impact of cyber schools can be found in NSBA’s Center for Public Education report, “Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools.”

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association responded to the report with a statement that noted, “Auditor General Jack Wagner’s recent report of charter and cyber charter school funding adds quantifiable numbers to what school board directors across the state have been saying for years–the funding formula is unfair and results in taxpayers spending more than necessary on these schools.”

“Charter and cyber charter funding formulas must be reflective of actual instructional expenses, predictable and based on logic,” PSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel said.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that a group of for-profit tutoring companies, who depend on funding under the federal Supplemental Education Services (SES) program, “have been working back-channels in the state Senate and Assembly” to stop state education leaders from shifting SES funds toward other interventions that might prove more useful to students and schools.

This lobbying effort was launched in response to reports finding that the SES program suffers from “bloated budgets, profiteering, and corruption.” According to the Huffington Post, one official discovered a SES provider that “collected $860,000 for tutoring students who never showed up.”

Del Stover|June 21st, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, School Reform|Tags: , , , |

Senate committee passes K-12 budget, but gains could be lost

Updated to reflect June 14 vote by Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education passed its Fiscal Year 2013 funding recommendations on a party-line vote on June 12, giving Title I, Race to the Top, and other federal K-12 programs a modest increase. However, those gains could be wiped out by across-the-board cuts that are scheduled to occur in January because of the Budget Control Act.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the measure on June 14 on a party-line vote.  The National School Boards Association is asking school board members to contact their Senators and ask them to preserve investments in Title I and special education (IDEA) and to develop a balanced budget that protects education.

“As state education aid continues to be impacted by state budgets that have not fully rebounded from the recession, it is even more critical that local K-12 educational programs receive the needed federal investment,” NSBA Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy Michael A. Resnick writes in a June 8 letter to members of the subcommittee. “Since Fiscal Year 2011, federal funding for elementary and secondary education programs has been reduced by more than $835 million through program eliminations and cuts. Any further cuts would affect core instruction and cause even larger class sizes that do not facilitate differentiated instruction and other specialized curricula that many students need.”

According to NSBA’s advocacy department, the subcommittee voted to increase funding for Title I grants by $100 million and to increase funding for IDEA by $100 million. Race to the Top would be funded at $600 million, a $51 million increase over current funding. Among other programs, Head Start would receive a $70 million increase; and School Improvement grants, Teacher Quality grants, Impact Aid, Rural Education grants, and Investing In Innovation (3i) would be funded at the same level.

Unless Congress intervenes before January, the Budget Control Act is slated to cut most federal programs by about 8 percent, which would impact almost every school district. NSBA wants to emphasize the importance of communicating these issues with members of Congress before that law goes into effect.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 14th, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|

The week in blogs: Obama’s education budget (abridged)

Want to get the high points of President Obama’s K12 budget — that is, without sifting through all the numbers and the fine print? Read the Quick and the Ed post by Rikesh Nana on the “three key takeaways” from the Administration’s proposal. It’s an excellent synopsis of what the president is proposing and what it all means.

So what are those takeaways? In order: consolidation of Department of Education programs (something that’s been tried in past budgets but never adopted): continued funding of Race to the Top and other competitive grant programs; and — in the absence of congressional action — an administration-sponsored overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

OK, sports fans, this next column is not about Jeremy Lin. (But if we find one on the New York Knicks sensation that has to do with K12 education, we promise to include it next week.) Instead, Eduwonk’s Andrew Rotherham looks at the firing — and quick rehiring by another team — of NHL hockey coach Bruce Boudreau and what that says about the importance of professional “fit.” Hint: It applies to teaching as well as big-time sports.

Been to Cleveland recently? Even if you haven’t, or have no plans to do so, you’ll want to check out another interesting Quick and the Ed blog on the city’s “portfolio” system of managing schools. Schools would operate with greater or lesser autonomy depending on their performance. “Charter schools as well as district-operated ones would participate,” says the blog by Richard Lee Colvin, “with the goal of giving families a real choice among several good options in every neighborhood.”

Lastly, check out Mark Bauerlein of the Chronicle of Higher Education on the attitudes and academic habits of college freshman. Here’s an interesting paradox (actually a bunch of paradoxes): more than 70 percent of students placed their academic ability in the “highest 10 percent” or “above average,” but only 45 percent felt that confident about their math ability, and just 46 percent believed they were that stellar in writing.

Lawrence Hardy|February 17th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Budgeting, Charter Schools, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |
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