Week of 7/11:  The Drop in Grades 1-5

This week we look at enrollment trends in grades 1-5 over the past year, recently signed legislation in Arizona, ongoing bus driver shortages, HVAC expenditure presentation in school budgets, and cell phone rules.

This is Dennis from Burbio and below is our weekly update.  Feel free to share. 
This week we look at enrollment trends in grades 1-5 over the past year, recently signed legislation in Arizona, ongoing bus driver shortages, HVAC expenditure presentation in school budgets, and cell phone rules.  More below. 
1.  In previous blog posts we profiled national and state-by-state trends in pre-K and kindergarten, middle school, ninth grade, and twelfth grade.   Nationally, enrollment in grades 1-5 shows a 1.27% decline for 2021/22 versus 2020/21.  In the state-by-state analysis below, we are able to cover enrollment comparisons among districts making up 90% of US K-12 of U.S. students, as some districts in state-level reporting are difficult to match up with NCES figures and aren't included.   Seven states in our analysis showed an increase in 2021/22 across these grades.    Each of the states that showed an increase in grades 1-5 also showed an increase in overall enrollment for the past year, as shown on our new Enrollment Tracker page. 
Grade 1-5 Enrollment Changes

2.  In news from around the U.S.: 

  • In  Arizona, a state where public school enrollment grew 1.9% from 2020-21 to 2021-22, Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation allowing for approximately $6,500 in reimbursement of expenses per child, with all families eligible, for "private school, homeschooling, micro schools, tutoring, or any other kinds of educational service that helps meet the needs of their students outside the traditional public school system," according to the press release from the Governor's office. 
  • Greece Central School District, NY has updated their policy for cell phone use: No cell phones in school for grades K-5, and for grades 6-12 cell phones and smart watches must be secured in pouches the entire school day.  The district explains: "The current policy is not working. A significant number of  students have their phones out during instructional time which has resulted in a significant educational distraction.   Having access to cellphones in free periods . . . . . also contributes to negative social media interactions among students which has led to physical conflict and emotional distress."
  • In a slightly different summer school approach, The Johnson School, MA is offering a free week-long program in early literacy and early math from August 22nd to August 26th that runs right to the start of school the following week.  
  • In a meal service we don't see often, Santa Fe Public Schools, NM will provide dinner meals weekdays in July for children up to the age of 18.  
  • Rockdale Public Schools, GA, joins the trend of districts requiring clear backpacks for students with this prescriptive post on the new regulations.  Conversely,  Alachua County Public Schools, FL will not be moving forward with its clear-backpack recommendation for middle and high school students after hearing from parents. 
  • Detroit Public Schools MI became one of the last districts in the U.S. to drop its mask mandate. "The District will not require masking in the future unless it is required by the federal, state, and/or city health department,"  reports the announcement.   This Chalkbeat story notes the mask requirement was tied to a labor agreement with Detroit teachers that expired June 30th. 
  • We continue to see reports of bus driver shortages resulting in scheduling changes.  In Lake Travis ISD, TX ongoing bus driver shortages have resulted in the district moving to a two weeks on, one week off schedule.  "(For) Students who successfully enroll for services . . . .. Transportation will be scheduled on a three-week rotation—two weeks with service followed by one week with no service.  . .  . . As we employ additional drivers, we will adjust the schedule accordingly."   Saddle Mountain Unified School District, AZ  will now have their high school start at 7 am due to bus driver shortages.  "(While) we know teenagers typically don’t like getting up early, this will help students miss less class time for athletic events and was necessary due to transportation limitations," notes the announcement. 
3.  Burbio's School Budget Tracker is compiling and breaking down billions of dollars of K-12 public school budget spending weekly as part of a project to provide better visibility into school spending.  We are going to be providing spending insights at the district level and, in future weeks, in the form of aggregate trends, as our dataset grows.    
This week we wanted to highlight spending in HVAC, a major focus of spending in school districts nationwide.   Budget presentations of HVAC spending (as with all K-12 spending) vary widely in format and presentation, are generally found in the capital expenditure section of budgets, but are not always broken out in detail - even as it is a very large budget item.  Some examples where we get visibility: 
Wicomico County Public Schools, MD presents a five year schedule, with multiple HVAC projects broken down by school:
Wicomico HVAC

Arlington Public Schools, VA breaks out their projected HVAC spending in aggregate and by school for the upcoming year:

Arlington HVAC

Finally RSU 24, ME breaks out HVAC in their ESSER III plan with the only specifics given being that they plan to make repairs within the next three years. 


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