The funding cliff: it not only sounds ominous, we know that many of you are concerned with what will happen to our school budgets in the next year or two when districts have spent all the federal stimulus funds, taxpayers remain unwilling to raise state or local taxes in a floundering economy, and budget shortfalls are still looming despite layoffs and cuts to classroom programs.
Two-thirds of school board members labeled their financial situation “extremely urgent,” threatening to curtail any progress made in their schools and impact student achievement, according to NSBA’s recent report, “School Boards Circa 2010.” (This report was co-authored by the Iowa School Boards Foundation and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and funded by the Wallace Foundation).
And it all comes at a time when public schools are facing increased and unfair sanctions from the No Child Left Behind law and more criticism from some lawmakers who still believe in privatization and choice.
This month’s ASBJ examines the “Funding Cliff” and how districts across the nation are coping so far. Senior Editor Del Stover points out one overarching irony, though: Some 82 percent of people don’t want state aid to public education reduced, but 60 percent want big government cuts, according to one analyst. (And K-12 education funding makes up the bulk of most states’ budgets). Another irony, schools can have ample funding for some earmarked programs but still have to make cuts to core programs and lay off essential teachers.