Category Archives: Schools K-12

Nurturing The Nest Egg: School districts get new federal duties in overseeing workers’ 403(b) supplemental retirement accounts

Source: Michele McNeil, Education Week, September 29, 2008

Seemingly arcane new federal rules about supplemental retirement plans have sparked a seismic shift in responsibility for school districts, thrusting them into the retirement business with new oversight–and burdens–involving their employees’ 403(b) accounts.

Once merely paper-pushers between their employees and investment choices, district business officials must now vet and pick the investment firms that offer such plans, craft a highly technical document governing the 403(b) accounts, and assume responsibility for making sure employees seeking hardship withdrawals or loans from their accounts are following the rules.

Districts’ Borrowing May Face Hit From Continued Financial Crisis

Source: Michele McNeil, Education Week, Vol. 28, Issue 06, September 24, 2008

Even as federal officials and members of Congress struggled this week over a rescue plan for troubled portions of the nation’s financial sector, states and school districts braced for ripple effects that could further threaten their stressed budgets.

The situation could have its biggest long-term impact on districts’ capital projects, as the upheaval in the credit and stock markets threatens to drive up the cost of borrowing money.

NY School Spending Well Above Inflation in 2008-09

Source: Empire Center, May 01, 2008

School districts across New York State will increase their per-pupil spending next year by nearly one and a half times the current rate of inflation — despite falling real estate values and clear signs of an economic slowdown — according to an analysis issued today by the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

Hard Times Hit Schools

Source: Michele McNeil, Education Week, August 25, 2008

These hard-to-grasp dollar amounts are forcing real cuts in K-12 education at a time when the cost of fueling buses and providing school lunches is increasing and the demands of the federal No Child Left Behind Act still loom large over states and districts.

But that may be a difficult task in the dozen states–including Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Nevada–that have made targeted cuts to certain education programs, according to a June report by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many U.S. Public Schools In ‘Air Pollution Danger Zone’

Source: Pollution Online, August 19, 2008

One in three U.S. public schools are in the “air pollution danger zone,” according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC).

UC researchers have found that more than 30 percent of American public schools are within 400 meters, or a quarter mile, of major highways that consistently serve as main truck and traffic routes.

Research has shown that proximity to major highways–and thus environmental pollutants, such as aerosolizing diesel exhaust particles–can leave school-age children more susceptible to respiratory diseases later in life.

The National School Lunch Program Background, Trends, and Issues

Source: Katherine Ralston, Constance Newman, Annette Clauson, Joanne Guthrie, and Jean Buzby, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service Economic Research Report No. (ERR-61), July 2008

From an overview:
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the Nation’s second largest food and nutrition assistance program. In 2006, it operated in over 101,000 public and nonprofit private schools and provided over 28 million low-cost or free lunches to children on a typical school day at a Federal cost of $8 billion for the year. This report provides background information on the NSLP, including historical trends and participant characteristics. It also addresses steps being taken to meet challenges facing administrators of the program, including tradeoffs between nutritional quality of foods served, costs, and participation, as well as between program access and program integrity.
See also:
Summary

AASA Survey Finds Rising Fuel, Energy Costs Stressing School Budgets

Source: American Association of School Administrators, 2008

From the press release:
Rising fuel and energy costs are taking a toll on school system budgets nationwide, according to the results of a new survey released today by the American Association of School Administrators. The eight-question AASA Fuel and Energy Snapshot Survey asked school superintendents about the effect of rising fuel and energy costs on their school districts. Ninety-nine percent of respondents reported these rising costs are having an impact on their school systems. Further, they reported that conserving energy, cutting back on student field trips and consolidating bus routes are among the top steps districts are taking to minimize the impact of rising fuel and energy costs. Meanwhile, few states are stepping forward to assist school systems struggling to meet escalating these rising costs.
See also:
Survey Results
Charts and Graphs
Snapshot of Superintendents’ Responses

Revenues and Expenditures by Public School Districts: School Year 2005-06

Source: Lei Zhou, National Center for Education Statistics, July 2008

From the description:
This brief publication contains data on revenues and expenditures per pupil made by school districts for school year 2005-06. Median per pupil revenue and expenditure data are reported by state, as well as values at the 5th and 95th percentiles. Data for charter schools are reported separately. There are also discussions on the different types of school districts, and other resources that may be helpful in analyzing school district level data. Revenues and expenditures for the 100 largest school districts are included, as well as federal revenues by program. For total revenues and expenditures for public education made by states and the nation, readers should refer to the state-level “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2005-06″ (NCES 2008-328)

Budgeting on Shifting Sand

Source: Kathy Christie, Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 89 no. 10, June 2008

The headlines are daunting. Plunging home values, skyrocketing fuel costs, declining state revenues, and a multitude of other budget worries add up to nightmares for state budget officials and school business directors. Even the most conservative observers will admit that budget cuts in most districts go beyond trimming fat and are cutting deep into the meat.