Archive for the ‘states’ Category

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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A wiki document, recently released by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), calls to attention the virtual learning items in all 19 finalists’ applications of the Race to the Top grant competition, Education Week reported. It revealed that the 10 winning states had strong online learn proposals and were ready to use Race to the Top funds to offer more online opportunities.

Here’s a highlight of some proposals:

  • Massachusetts’ application featured already-existing efforts to direct federal stimulus funds toward creating competency-based online and blended learning courses that mix face-to-face and virtual lessons for alternative school students.
  • New York is noted in the iNACOL report for the statewide technology plan it adopted in January that calls for exposing all students to online and blended learning opportunities.
  • Georgia’s plan indicated an interest in completely replacing seat-time standards, both in online and traditional classes. Rhode Island’s pointed to a similar, already-established system.
  • In Ohio’s application, the state’s Credit Flexibility Plan, which is being extended to all the state’s schools for the first time this fall, allows students to gain high school credit through alternative experiences that include online learning, internships, educational travel, or dual enrollment in a college course.

Read the entire article.

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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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A new report released by the Center on Education Policy concludes that more than half of the states report that their capacity to carry out stimulus-related education changes is a challenge for them. The majority of states plan to apply for the $4 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants. These same states are admitting they are having major stimulus-based related problems in adhering to the requests of the Obama administration to improve low-performing schools and teacher quality.

The report entitled, “An Early Look at the Economic Stimulus Package and the Public Schools” focuses on how school districts and states are implementing the education assurances of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed by Congress in February 2009.

These four assurances include:

1. Increasing teacher effectiveness and addressing inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers

2. Establishing and using data systems that track students’ progress from prekindergarten through college and careers and that foster continuous improvement

3. Developing and implementing rigorous standards for college and career readiness and high-quality assessments

4. Providing targeted, intensive support and effective interventions to turn around the lowest-performing schools

The report finds that state education funding problems are likely to worsen in 2010, as more states forecast shortfalls in their K-12 education budgets. What states are having the most problems with in allocating or using ARRA funds are multiple or inconsistent reporting requirements, a lack of administrative funds, and a lack of state capacity.

Take a look at the report “An Early Look at the Economic Stimulus Package and the Public Schools” and let NSSEA know your thoughts!

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