Articles in the Budgeting category

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: , , , |

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 www.nsba.org/stopsequestration.

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: , |
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