Burbio School Tracker 8/21: $7.4 Billion

This week we look at ESSER III spending from California, district-level ESSER III "cliff levels" in Pennsylvania, our expanded set of strategic plans, and enrollments from Washington, D.C

1.  Burbio tracks the amount of ESSER III funding that has been spent by districts nationwide, and also has compiled over 7,000 searchable district plans representing over 83% of K-12 students and over $93 billion in spending.  Detailed charts featuring over 75 spending categories can be found on Burbio's ESSER III summary page.     

California recently updated their reporting on the amount each district has spent.  Statewide, districts have spent just over 45% of their ESSER III funding as of the June 30th report.  In aggregate, districts in the state have $7.4 billion in unspent funds remaining.  The chart below breaks down the number of districts and the amount they have remaining:  


The chart below is a breakdown of percent-spent by decile: 


2.  Burbio's database of K-12 strategic plans is now at 1,000 districts covering 45% of the K-12 school population.  We begin delivering the data to clients this month, and will be expanding to over 3,000 district plans by later this Fall.  District plans are generally published on five year schedules, occasionally updated annually, and we will update the database as new plans are issued.  This week we look at the publication year of the plans in our database so far.  Note that plans are frequently labeled for the academic years they cover, hence a small number of 2024 plans in the chart below.  Almost 40% of districts last published their plans in 2020.  Just over 17% of districts did so in 2023 or 2024, which represents the recent period of K-12 education when districts were clear of Covid mitigations


3.   Just as each K-12 district has a unique plan for ESSER III spending, districts vary in the proportion of spending ESSER III represents as a percentage of their annual expenditures.  To examine that issue requires using examples from states who have normalized K-12 operating budgets through reporting at the state level.  This week we take a look at "ESSER III exposure" by looking at districts in Pennsylvania, using their FY 2023 approved budgets.  

For this exercise we had to make some assumptions:

  • First, we need an assumption around how much of a district's total ESSER III allocation is included in its annual budget.  ESSER III spending only began scaling in the Spring of 2022 as districts approved plans and launched programs.  It has gradually accelerated, but the amount spent will end up being back-loaded.  Based on tracking of trends, we estimate roughly 40% of ESSER III funding will be spent during 2023-24 budget year.  

  • Next, we took that 40% of a district's ESSER III allocation and divided it by the 2022/23 budgeted expenses for each district to calculate the percent of spending that a district may be looking at replacing on an ongoing basis as ESSER III expires. 

  • There are other variables of course; for example, 2023-24 operating expenses aren't finalized, so the denominator in our equation (the 2022-23 Budgeted Expenses) may be low.  Districts are also eligible to spend ESSER III funds during 2024/25, and ESSER III may be a part of those budgets, so the funding drop-off won't be immediate.  Districts' ESSER III spending pace also varies and might have been more or less than our assumed 40% of total allocation.  This is an effort to frame the scope of the issue and identify the distribution of district exposure.

Our first chart shows a distribution of Pennsylvania districts based on percentage of annual budget which would be ESSER III.  Note that over 35% of districts have exposure of 2% or less in this calculation: 


Next is a pie chart summarizing the distribution above.  Just over 60% of Pennsylvania districts have ESSER III exposure of 5% or less, just over 23% have exposure of five to ten percent, just over 11% have exposure of 10 to 15%, and 3.1% of districts have exposure of over 15%: 


4.  Burbio tracks state-level enrollment announcements to the grade-level through our Enrollment Tracker. State level announcements precede the Federal NCES reporting by as much as 15 months. The District of Columbia recently announced enrollment for 2022-23, which also reflects public charter schools. Enrollment increased by 2.8%, and the grade-level changes can be seen below, with the most recent year in yellow: 


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