District Finance Network Resources2023-09-12T18:54:25+00:00

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 edunomics@georgetown.edu.

Advocacy: Hindrance or Help?

As districts approach the fiscal cliff, how can advocates derail or support making tough decisions? In this webinar we explore levers for building supportive advocacy, including a communications template to signal coming financial shocks.

View presentation slides from September 12, 2023

Driving Blind: Investing in Students Without Measuring ROI

For years, districts lacked data to measure how well they leverage their dollars for students. Now, with the new school-by-school spending and outcomes data, we can measure our return on investment. We can use ROI to make strategic resource decisions to address our students’ needs.

View presentation slides from August 8, 2023

Rightsizing Your Workforce

In this webinar we discussed the current complicated labor moment: while districts may need to lay off some staff, they also may need to hire for critical roles like special educators and bus drivers. We urged districts to take a nuanced approach to rightsizing and shared ideas such as presenting options publicly so that the community can consider what’s at stake with layoffs.

View presentation slides from April 20, 2023

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.

View presentation slides from February 28, 2023

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.

View presentation slides from January 24, 2023

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.

View presentation slides from November 29, 2022

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.

View presentation slides from September 20, 2022

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.

View presentation slides from July 19, 2022

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.

View presentation slides from May 24, 2022

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.

View presentation slides from April 26, 2022

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.

View presentation slides from March 29, 2022

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.

View presentation slides from February 22, 2022

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.

View presentation slides from November 16, 2021

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.

View presentation slides from October 19, 2021

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.

View presentation slides from June 29, 2021

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.

View presentation slides from May 11, 2021

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.

View presentation slides from February 23, 2021

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.

View presentation slides from December 15, 2020

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.

View presentation slides from November 10, 2020

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.

View presentation slides from October 20, 2020

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!)

View presentation slides from September 15, 2020

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.

View presentation slides from August 25, 2020

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).

View presentation slides from August 11, 2020

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.

View presentation slides from July 14, 2020

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.

View presentation slides from June 16, 2020

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.

View presentation slides from May 5, 2020