District Finance Network Meetings
These presentation slides from our District Finance Network Meetings can help guide districts as they consider financial plans for the coming months and years. Beginning with the financial turmoil in early 2020, the topics range from early projections of state and district economic outlooks to strategic budget cutting and stakeholder communications, the impacts of enrollment shifts and learning loss on district finances, and the implications of massive federal relief funds for K-12.
If you are interested in joining future meetings please email Jessica Swanson at email@example.com.
It’s Time To Signal The Coming Financial Shocks
Districts face competing tensions when it comes to sharing bad financial news with their school communities. In this webinar, our team shared tips for communicating about budget gaps in ways that maintain trust, and urged leaders to start now.
Benefiting From Your Benefits
Districts’ spending on benefits makes up a significant share of their budgets, though spending varies, even within states. As districts face a near perfect storm of upcoming financial shocks, our team shared ideas on how to reduce benefits costs, citing examples from districts that have implemented innovative measures.
5 Ways to Disrupt the Budget Dance in FY24
In this webinar, we share ways that district leaders can build additional steps into the budget process to maximize dollars for students and be more responsive to current challenges. This includes using data to take stock of how previous investments are (or are not) improving outcomes, and helping school board members understand what today’s spending decisions mean for the financial road ahead.
How Can Districts Reduce Expenses With Declining Enrollment?
Who wants to take about the financial effects of enrollment declines?! In this webinar, we share what worries us when a district isn’t dealing with its enrollment drops. We explore ways that schools can shrink their expenses, including leveraging attrition to downsize, closing/consolidating schools, and other measures like trimming the Central Office and adjusting benefits plans. We also discuss some of the challenges to downsizing like staffing minimums and class size limits.
Revenues, Recession, and Declining Enrollment
In this webinar we look at what is currently consuming financial attention in school districts, including inflation and shifting enrollments; the coming ESSER fiscal cliff and a possible recession; and deploying ESSER funds to get students back on track. We then explore the possible timing and magnitude of atypical financial factors on budgets.
Lots of ESSER Updates
It’s been over a year since ESSER 3. In this webinar we look at ED’s extension of the deadline for spending relief funds and notice of upcoming quarterly audits, and discuss new research on the pandemic’s academic impacts and recommended remedies to address learning gaps. Plus we share a new tool to help leaders ensure investments bring benefits to students.
Are We Spending More on Students Who Attend Small Schools?
Why do some small schools cost more than others? In this webinar we explore the mechanisms by which districts send more money to their smaller (or under-enrolled) schools, examples of how some small schools share staff in order to cut costs, and the question of who decides when a school is no longer financially feasible and should close.
Inflation, Labor Agreements, and the Connection to SBA
In this webinar we explore what inflation means for school districts and factors to consider in upcoming labor negotiations, including the end of ESSER funds, declining enrollments, and uneven staffing shortages.
Leveraging ARP IDEA and ESSER $ To Get SpEd Back On Track
How are school districts treating federal relief funds for students with disabilities? Where’s the money going? Is it getting students with disabilities more learning time? Who is making special education spending decisions? And what role are parents playing? In this webinar we explore these questions and more, and share what we’re learning from our tracking of 43 districts.
Declining Enrollment and SBA
Public school enrollments fell 3% last year, and a “COVID baby bust” suggests declines will continue. Among districts with enrollment losses, 82% received federal relief aid amounts larger than their related revenue losses. In this webinar, we look at the implications of using federal aid to backfill budgets and avoid layoffs, and discuss how student-based allocation can help districts shrink their budgets for longer-term fiscal sustainability.
ESSER: 6 Mistakes to Avoid
What happens when the feds give large sums of money to school districts with few strings attached? In this webinar, we outline six potential mistakes district might be making with federal relief funds and how to avoid them.
Student-Driven Allocation and What That Means for ARP
In this webinar we outline two approaches to ARP ESSER spending decisions – centralized and decentralized – and explore the difference in implications across a number of areas, including how the money is structured; offsetting funding losses from declining enrollment; equity across schools; public engagement on spending decisions; and how outcomes will be measured.
Five Principles to Guide District Spending
As districts weigh how to use their extremely flexible one-time federal relief funds, this webinar explores how to balance the immediate need to address learning loss while pacing spending to avert a fiscal cliff. We suggest creating a multi-year plan for spending down funds, considering alternatives to adding new recurring costs, and computing the per-pupil cost and value of investments.
New Dollars: Reopening and Remediation
This webinar explores how to make spending decisions with new dollars in light of two big challenges: reopening schools and remediating learning loss. We look at how financial conditions and considerations differ for districts that have been all or mostly remote versus all or mostly open.
Remediation Funding and Rethinking Benefits
With budget gaps on the horizon, we shared early findings from discussions with district leaders, teachers, parents, and principals on the kinds of cuts they would prefer. We also explored considerations for structuring investments in remediation, shared our analysis of teacher turnover trends, and pondered how changes to benefits could help bridge budget gaps.
Post-Election: K-12 Finance
With a new administration and control of the US senate still in question, we look at what might be ahead for federal spending on education. We also consider the economic recovery outlook for individual states, and how the way that states apply cuts to state ed funding will impact districts differently. Lastly, we discuss the urgent need to figure out which students are disengaged or not being served at all, in order to tailor investments to uncover and address learning loss.
Budgeting With Enrollment Drops
In this webinar we explore patterns of enrollment shifts across the country and the implications for short- and long-term budgeting when enrollments are so uncertain. We also discuss the impact of state formulas and varying hold harmless provisions, and help districts to consider an array of budget cutting options.
Rethinking Resources in a Pandemic
As districts face competing priorities (student v adult, short-term v long-term), there is no playbook for this moment. In this webinar we explore what to do with non-working staff during remote learning; what it might look like to spend money differently; and how stakeholders react to potential cuts. (Hint: reminding stakeholders to consider what’s best for students changes their perspective!)
Federal Stimulus & What Districts Should Know
David DeSchryver of Whiteboard Advisors provided key updates on whether we’ll see more federal funding for K-12. We looked at districts’ top priorities heading into the new school year (learning loss, equity, and social-emotional learning), and discussed keeping the emphasis on students when it comes to thinking about new investments and budget cuts.
Reserves, New Revenues & Messaging
We provide an overview of where districts are tapping their reserves as revenues shrink, while some are are seeking new local taxes to offset funding reductions or cover increased costs to restart school. We also share early findings from our messaging research with focus groups, and suggest better ways to talk about budget cuts with stakeholders (e.g., providing a list of cuts that were considered, and clarifying how decisions are based on what is best for students).
CARES Act & Reopening Schools
These slides provide an overview of federal CARES funding and guidelines: how much money, how it flows, and how it can be spent. We consider the widely varying projections of per-pupil costs to reopen schools amid COVID, and posit some cost-equivalent options for districts to consider as a mechanism to reduce labor costs and offset the costs of reopening.
What Worries You?
The financial outlook for public education continues to change rapidly. In this meeting we look at the typical stages of hurried district budget cuts, what we’re seeing in states and districts across the country, and what we’re worried we’ll see more of in the months ahead.
Steps Districts Can Take Now
With budget cuts looming, this meeting focuses on actions districts can take now to flatten the curve and avoid a fiscal cliff later, and considers spending choices with longer-term impacts (e.g., reining in healthcare costs, making raises non-pensionable). We examine options to reduce or avert layoffs, and discuss the importance of communicating in ways that build trust during times of budget cutting.