Category Archives: Schools K-12

USDA Study Shows States Failing To Connect Many Needy Children to Free School Meals

Source: Zoë Neuberger, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 3, 2009

Key Findings

Federal law requires school districts to automatically enroll children for free school meals if their families receive SNAP benefits. This automatic enrollment, known as direct certification, is highly accurate and reduces paperwork for school districts and poor families.

* A new USDA study finds that states vary widely in the performance of their direct certification systems. Sixteen states miss more than two in five children who could be automatically enrolled for free school meals.
* Many children overlooked by direct certification fail to receive free school meals because their parents do not complete a paper application.
* States can take steps to improve direct certification, such as automatically connecting children who begin receiving SNAP benefits in the middle of the school year to free school meals.

Incidence and Characteristics of School Bus Crashes and Injuries

Source: Jingzhen Yanga, Corinne Peek-Asab, Gang Chengc,Erin Heidena, Scott Falbe and Marizen Ramirezb, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 41, Issue 2, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Crashes in the state of Iowa were examined from January 2002 through December 2005. School bus crashes were identified through the Iowa Crash Data, a comprehensive database of all reported crashes in the State of Iowa. School bus mileage data were provided by the Iowa Department of Education. School bus crash, fatality, and injury rates were calculated and differences in crash and injury characteristics between school buses and other vehicles were examined.

School buses experience low crash rates, and the majority of crashes do not lead to injury. Buses are among the safest forms of road transportation, and efforts to educate drivers of other vehicles may help reduce crashes with buses.

Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools

Source: Stephen P. Ashkin and Rochelle Davis, Healthy Schools Campaign, 2008
(free registration required)

From the press release:
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) is pleased to announce the release of the improved and expanded second edition of the Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools. The second edition includes new sections on sustainability, green cleaning for food service, integrated pest management, new technologies and more. It was developed with the support of 16 national education stakeholder organizations and 39 cleaning industry corporate leaders following the distribution of more than 70,000 copies of the popular and highly-regarded first edition.

The guide includes a handbook outlining five simple steps for setting up a green cleaning program, such as switching to green cleaning products and equipment, adopting new cleaning procedures, introducing green paper and plastic products and involving all school stakeholders in the process. An accompanying CD contains comprehensive information, practical advice, tools and resources to help schools learn more and institutionalize their efforts. The new guide includes an enhanced purchasing directory with more than 500 products that meet HSC’s environmental standards for schools.

Clean and Green School Buses – Reducing Fuel Use and Exposure to Diesel Exhaust

Source: Jan Mueller, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, October 21, 2008

Making schools “greener” is not just about buildings. Transportation of students and staff to and from school is an important component of a school’s environmental and greenhouse gas footprint. School buses play an important role in minimizing that footprint, but they present unique challenges and opportunities in reducing fuel use, emissions, and health impacts.

Stimulus Could Boost School Construction

Source: Allison Armour-Garb and Thomas Gais, Rockefeller Institute of Government, Observations, February 2009

After a recession, school capital spending tends to take a hit. This time, that hit could be particularly damaging, as spending on K-12 construction and repair has yet to pick up from the 2003 downturn. But Congress is tackling the issue with provisions in the economic stimulus package.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Education Spending

Source: Michael Griffith, Education Commission of the States, February 13, 2009

On this President’s Day, President Obama plans on signing the federal “Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” into law. This act contains $789 billion in new federal spending or tax cuts with up to $100 billion potentially going to public education programs. This historic increase in education spending, and the changes that it will bring with it, may be difficult for some policymakers and their staffs to “get their heads around”. For this reason ECS has prepared this preliminary summary to help explain:

1. How much new education funding states can expect to receive

2. How the funds will be distributed and how they can be spent

3. How policymakers can explain this new funding to their constituents

4. Things to think about.

School Breakfast Scorecard – School Year 2007-2008

Source: Rachel Cooper and Madeleine Levin, Food Research and Action Center, January 2009

The School Breakfast Program plays an invaluable role in reducing childhood hunger and improving nutrition, as well as supporting a range of positive outcomes that advance key national priorities. School breakfast supports child development, improves health, boosts student achievement and student behavior, and reduces obesity. But with less than half of eligible low-income children participating in the breakfast program now, and as substantial numbers of new children become eligible as families lose jobs or see their incomes reduced dramatically during this recession, it is essential to reduce barriers to participation and accelerate the expansion of school breakfast participation.

Meal Counting and Claiming by Food Service Management Companies in the School Meal Programs

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-09-156R, January 30, 2009

The federal government spends about $10 billion each year to provide meals to over 30
million students through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. However,
a 2007 study estimated that of this amount, $860 million (8.6 percent) in school year
2005-2006 was paid improperly because of errors in the number of meals counted and
claimed for reimbursement.1 These programs are administered by the United States
Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) through state
agencies that, in turn, oversee local school food authorities (SFA). SFAs that participate
in the lunch and breakfast programs receive federal cash reimbursements through the
state agency for each meal served, and in the lunch program they also receive USDA
commodity donations based on the number of meals served. In return, SFAs must serve
meals that meet federal nutrition requirements and offer meals free or at a reduced price
to students whose family’s income falls below certain thresholds.

State Budget Shortfalls: Examples of State Responses

Source: Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, StateNotes, February 2009

Many states are proposing short-term cuts in P-12 education spending. This StateNote provides examples of potential budget cuts in five areas: (1) capital and building expenditures; (2) textbooks, supplies and equipment; (3) salaries and benefits; (4) staffing of non-teaching positions; and (5) instructional and support programs and services. The report also indicates where funds are being added or reallocated, and where states are considering creative approaches to preserve or expand P-12 education programs and services.