1. Certain states require districts to submit projected enrollment for the following year as part of their budget process. These numbers will of course shift when "actual" enrollment is calculated. This week we take a look at projected enrollment trends in New Jersey by NCES locale classifications. The red bars show the shifts in FY 22 vs FY 21 (mostly declining) and the blue bars show FY 23 vs FY 22. Districts of all locale types in New Jersey are projecting enrollment increases in this current year.
2. As part of our Budget Tracker service we provide district-level updates on reported spending of ESSER III allocations. Funds must be obligated by districts by September 2024. This week we wanted to take a look at the pace of reported spending. Below we took a look at changes in reported "percent spent" in districts from a selection of states.
State-level reporting timing varies and it is difficult to capture a moment-in-time precisely. Below we take the change in "percent spent" totals for each state over roughly a one month timeframe. The average "before and after" for the reports below are 35 days; for example, Vermont and Indiana have a 28 day differences between reports, Nevada has a 38 day difference, Delaware 42 days, etc. All of the before and after reports below are from September and October, with the exception of North Carolina, which occurred in July.
The average percent spent difference from the states below is 3.36%. That figure would average down to districts spending just under 3% of their funds per thirty day period if you were going to estimate how much ESSER III funding districts are spending monthly. This analysis indicates that in addition to having the majority of ESSER III funds still available, districts are spending at a deliberate pace and the funding will last well into calendar 2024.
3. As the school year settles in we wanted to share some observations from districts across the country:
- We often see Superintendent letters to parents getting very specific about when to hold a child out of school and suggesting parents not take so many precautions. This "Sick and School Attendance Letter" from Bloomfield School District, NM, reads: "As a community, we are still battling COVID-19 and have officially entered allergy, cold, and flu season. However, it is unnecessary to keep your student out of school for every symptom or illness. Please utilize the below graphic should you question whether or not your student should attend school. . . ."
- A representative example of an "extended day" learning plan comes from New Haven Public Schools, CT with their "Saturday Success Academy" featuring programs in Literacy, STEM, Arts, Music, Sports, Robotics, Online Learning, Martial Arts and Mindfulness.
- A good example of student engagement comes from Battle Creek Public Schools, MI, where they are launching "Wonder Wednesdays" at the Math and Science Center. "As students came back to in-person learning following the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff began to notice a disappointing trend. While students were continuing to excel in the classroom, somewhere along their educational journeys, many seemed to be losing the excitement and curiosity for math and science topics that drew them to the school in the first place. In response, the building staff came together to do what they do best—innovate," reads the announcement.
- Bus driver and support staff shortages continue to be an issue. Bixby Public School, OK is changing bus routes this month due to a driver shortage, Petrolia ISD, TX continues to advertise for new drivers, and in Francis Howell School District, MO a recent announcement reads, "Soccer team steps up to help clean their school amid custodial staffing shortage . . . "
- As districts across the country add security precautions, in Keller ISD, TX, Bear Creek Intermediate school has added "Braves on Patrol", a program where parent volunteers patrol school grounds during the day as a safety precaution.
- In Oswayo Valley School District, PA, a recent principal note reads, "If your family is experiencing difficulty at home. . . I understand you are not always able to share detail and that's okay. . . .if your child is coming to school after a difficult night, morning or weekend, please email me, 'Handle With Care. . '"
- We are starting to see district level enrollment discussions. From the "Fact or Fiction" section of Carmel Clay Schools, IN school district website an analysis reads, "The primary factors causing the district's enrollment to decrease after the 2021-22 school year are the slowdown in the number of new housing units being constructed, a limited existing homes sales market in the district coupled with a rapidly increasing number of 'empty nest' households . . . Carmel High School Class of 2022 had nearly 1,400 graduates, while this year’s Kindergarten class was approximately 1,050 . . ." Conversely, Greenville ISD, TX announces, "GISD’s student enrollment is 5,435. . . . slightly higher than the demographic projections, which called for a student enrollment of 5,429 for the fall of 2022-23. Enrollment is projected to exceed 6,700 by 2031-32. . . "