"America's School Funding Crisis: Budget Cuts, Rising Costs And No Help In Sight"
Original article written by Cory Turner for NPR.
Back in May, with government funding in the air due to the ongoing pandemic, school funding experts predicted a looming financial disaster for K-12 schools in the upcoming academic year. However, thanks in part to the CARES Act, schools have been able to avoid a short-term funding crisis. The article describes how schools typically get their funding from state tax revenues. Back in March, states were facing budget cuts in the 20-30% range. The CARES Act helped to avoid such drastic cuts, instead we are experiencing a "bad year" with budget cuts ranging from 15-20%. It's not clear when — or even if — lawmakers will agree on another relief package for schools. The CARES Act was seven months ago, and, while the coronavirus relief bill did provide K-12 schools with more than $13 billion in emergency funding, the money came with restrictions on how it could be spent and won't begin to cover schools' continuing costs. Schools have needed to spend extra on PPE, facility cleaning, and extra technology such as laptops and internet hot spots for students. As a result of the budget cuts, "there are about 570,000 fewer local education jobs" this year compared to the start of the previous school year, says Michael Leachman, who studies state fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Those are teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, librarians, counselors." While the financial impact of these cuts is clearly stated, there is the added element of the learning loss students, especially low-income students, are currently experiencing. While complete disaster was avoided on the funding side, vulnerable students falling behind in school poses another disaster in the coming months, especially if schools are not granted additional relief.
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