Archive for the ‘spending’ Category

Steven Kroll, managing director at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., talks about the U.S. deficit and economy. Kroll also speaks about the tax-cut agreement President Obama reached with Republicans, the performance of U.S. stock and bond markets, and his investment strategy. He talks with Matt Miller and Carol Massar on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” Dan Deming of Stutland Equities LLC also speaks. (Source: Bloomberg)

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Economists might have said that the “Great Recession” officially ended last year. But school district budgets are not expected to regain their pre-recession (2008) funding levels until late in the decade, according to a new report.

Across the country, school districts are still making deep cuts in their budgets by laying off teachers, cutting instructional programs, and eliminating student activities, the Center for Public Education concluded in their report.

Just how bad is it you ask? In 2010, every state—with the exception of Montana and North Dakota—faced budget shortfalls totaling $200 billion, or about 30 percent of state budgeted general expenditures—the largest gap on record. This is very significant since most districts receive nearly half of its funding from state budgets.

The report cited that for the 2011 school year, 33 states, including the District of Columbia, cut essential K-12 funding areas to help balance the budget. On average cuts were made to:

  • General funds to districts
  • Funding for books and classroom supplies
  • Programs for gifted and talented
  • Pre-K and after-school programs
  • Funds for teacher preparation and training
  • Aid for school construction
  • Allocations for administration staff
  • Aid targeted to charter schools

“Some districts have managed to trim personnel costs while minimizing teacher layoffs by instituting furlough days, freezing salaries and reducing health and retirement costs,” the report states. “But the financial handwriting is on the wall: In upcoming years, more cuts will be necessary.”

Sources: The Center for Public Education and Education Week

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The Hechinger Report, a non-profit news organization that focuses on producing in-depth education journalism, recently asked several education experts whether we should try to reform education while in the midst of a recession.

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With the Obama administration sharply increasing federal financing to $3.5 billion this year to turnaround failing schools, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pushing to overhaul 5,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools in the next few years, scores of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money, the New York Times reports.

For example: a corporation, which has run into trouble with parents and authorities in several states for its charter school management business, has now opened a school-turnaround subsidiary, and a husband-and-wife team, which specializes in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul, is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia.

Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington told the New York Times that many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight. Read the entire article.

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When policymakers discuss education funding and reform, typically they are referring to issues within minority, inner city communities. A new study revealed that urban students aren’t the only individuals falling behind and dropping out of school—so are rural students.

According to the report, “Current Challenges and Opportunities in Preparing Rural High School Students for Success in College and Careers: What Federal Policymakers Need to Know,” one out of every four rural students fails to graduate from high school, a problem that owes largely to a lack of attention to the needs of rural schools. From changing Title I formulas to providing cutting-edge technology, it’s time to provide more support to those who need it most, the report says. In addition, the report showed that minority, low-income students, English language learners, migrant students, and children with special needs are at even greater risk for dropping out of rural high schools.

“Much of the recent debate over high school reform at the federal level has not involved rural schools,” Bob Wise, AEE president and former governor of West Virginia, told eSchool News. “Every student in America deserves the chance to graduate from high school ready to succeed in college, careers, and life.” Read the entire article.

(Source: eSchool News)

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Small business owners are facing massive credit restrictions from their banks, according to an article in Reuters.com. Businesses are dealing with banks terminating business credit lines, cutting home equity lines, and putting a stop to credit line leniency. What is a small business to do? Many small business owners feel that banks are still very afraid of taking lending risks with small companies and they feel that banks are pulling back from giving small companies access to much needed credit lines.

The article also mentions that the President of the National Small Business Association (NSBA) warns that if credit does not become available soon, American entrepreneurs will not have the money to expand their businesses and ultimately fall by the wayside. Especially since many small companies use lines of credit to pay employee salaries.

In “Recession Realties,” an article published in the Nov/Dec issue of Essentials, which will hit mailboxes in mid-November, Richard Caudle, president of Rock ’N Learn, admits having to use a line of credit for the first time because of the decline in the economy. Well, how about you? Have you dipped into your line of credit to help absorb costs at your company? Also, has your bank decreased or eliminated your line of credit all together? Let NSSEA know your thoughts.

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By: Rebecca Haden
A Plus Educational, Harrison, AR

 Back to School spending was down this year across the board, even compared with last year, when it seemed that consumers were as nervous about spending as they possibly could be.  An overall 7.7 percent decrease was expected – and consumers waited longer than usual to do their shopping, too, with more than half of U.S. families reporting that they hadn’t completed their back to school shopping on the weekend before classes began.

Electronics expenditures showed one of the highest drops – 4 percent — along with clothing and toiletries. Calculators were the exception, showing the only rise in sales. School supplies of the kind most of us sell, including books and pencils and general school gear, was down only about 1 percent.

Teachers still average about $500 a year in personal spending for their classrooms, national surveys say , but many of our teacher customers rely on school funds for their shopping with us, and the personal funds go towards  yard sale bargains, hand sanitizer, and even food.

Schools? According to the American Association of School Administrators, school budgets are up this year, but not enough to offset the rise in fuel and food prices, nor to balance the loss of sales tax revenue from the lowered spending of consumers. In terms of funds available for classrooms, a quarter of schools reported cutting their spending.

Overall, there was less money to go around. But there’s a ray of hope in the other big piece of news in the reports of this year’s school spending, which is that people are waiting. We still have shoppers out there.

How can we make sure to get our fair share of the remaining back to school funds? What we’ve done in the past may not do it.

  • We have to make sure that teachers see the value of what we’re offering them. We’d better make it clear that the bulletin board sets are educational, the books of reproducibles are jam-packed with usable stuff, and the storage options are better than Rubbermaid.
  • We also have to make it fun. You know which industries are still doing fine? Makeup, gourmet chocolates, fancy pens – people still feel like splurging, and if they can’t splurge on the big stuff, they’ll splurge on the little stuff. Have the coolest impulse items you can find at your cash wrap.
  • We have to build the base of loyalty for the rest of the year. When our regulars come in and spend less, we can get frustrated and think about cutting back on service, but that would be a mistake. As things improve, we want to make sure that we’re still the ones our customers want to shop with.

Truth to tell, we’ve had a good Back to School, and spending at the online store more than doubled since last year. We know we need to be grateful. We also know we need to keep our strategy in mind. Business pundits are saying that the winners as we come out of this recession will be, quite simply, the survivors.

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