Week of 7/18:  "Budget Considerations"

This week we look at some trends we are seeing in annual school budgets and highlight interesting things we wre seeing in schools across the country.

This is Dennis from Burbio and below is our weekly update.  Feel free to share. 
1.   School budgets will often highlight the increases that are driving expenses in the following year.    Sometimes they reconcile expense increases down to the line item, and in other cases they provide written summaries of changes with some financial metrics included.  This week we wanted to give examples of budgets that highlight two trends:  a) The increased costs associated with mental health support for students;  b) Compensation increases for support staff that go above those provided to teaching and administrative staff.   
These are not the only types of increases we see in our collection of school budget data, but they appear frequently.  In the summaries below (links are provided) the bullet points summarize all of the material increases noted in the budget documents, so in these cases it is concentrated in these two areas: 
Fall River Public Schools, MA (p 231) highlights new positions for social and emotional support, more than doubling the resources in the area: 
  • Creation of the position of Director of SEL and Mental Health Services
  • Three new positions - an SEL "integration" specialist responsible for managing SEL resources into the curriculum, a Lead Family Engagement Specialist, and a Movement Therapist designed to be a "launchpad to increase the number of mental health professionals that are trained to offer specialty therapeutic services"
  • Additional stipends for three School-Based Adjustment Counselors (SACs)
Spotsylvania County Public Schools, VA (p. 29) outlines the following increases in the budget:
  • Five full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for School Psychologists
  • Four FTEs to enhance Health & Wellness services
  • Nine percent increase in starting teacher salary ($5.6MM), $626,000 in salary adjustments for Bus Aides and Drivers, and one FTE in school security 
  • Health Care fund benefits increase
Knox County Schools, TN (p.5) outlines their increase of $49.5 MM in spending in the following areas:
  • 4% increase in salaries, except 8% for custodians, educational assistants and clerical positions ($24.1MM) 
  •  $6.2MM in new teaching staff. "This category includes additional teachers to be added at our schools based on the district-wide staffing allocation model. Those schools experiencing reductions to enrollment were held harmless (i.e. would not lose teaching positions)."
  • $4.8MM increase in school supports which "includes additional special education positions (teachers and educational assistants) based on IEP requirements, ELL support, social workers, school counselors, and nurses."
  • $1.6 MM increases in transportation and $1.3MM in school security
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, TX (pages 8-12) in their "Cost of Budget Considerations" outlines the following increases
  • Percent compensation increases ranging from 6.7% to 12% for paraprofessional and support staff.  This figure combines salary increases plus bonuses.  The increase for teachers is 3.9% and for executive leadership is 2.6% 
  • Various stipends, which range from $1,000-$2,000, total $22.7MM, which is a higher figure than the raises of $18.2MM
  • Additional increases are $15MM for additional teachers and paraprofessionals and $6.2MM for Elementary and Middle School Behavioral Interventionist and Testing Coordinator positions
Post Falls School District, ID (p.6) on "Major Budget Additions for 2022/23" highlights the following:
  •  A 5.5% salary increase for all staff groups and 7-10% salary increase for our lowest paid staff groups. "Due to a historic increase to the Idaho funding formula for K-12 Public Education, Post Falls School District was able to negotiate with Post Falls Education Association and afford this notably high percentage increase to base salaries."
  • Special Services: "Post–pandemic  . . . . staff are seeing increased needs for special services and instruction, especially with regard to students with severe behavior challenges . .  . the costs to create a Therapeutic Support Classroom are included in the 2022-2023 budget.   (This) will offer additional support for students with the greatest behavioral needs . . . ."
  • Full day kindergarten.   "This year, the state legislature increased funding for K-3 Literacy programming by 178% . The intent of this line item increase was to create funding levels sufficient to introduce full-day kindergarten. With this increase in funding, the district added 7 new teaching positions to greet our kindergarteners in September."
2.  In news from around the country: 
  • Burbio's Mask Policy Tracker shows only six districts in the Top 500 as having mask mandates as of this writing, the lowest total of the year.  The Hawaii State Department of Health changed its guidance for K-12 schools, effective August 1st and we will change that district to mask-optional (currently it is mask-required) when it takes effect.   Conversely, San Diego Unified, CA is re-introducing a mask mandate on Monday, July 18th, and that district will flip to mask-mandated on that date.  
  • In Muskogee Public Schools, OK, newly hired teachers are  eligible for a $10,000 housing stipend if they purchase or build a house in Muskogee city limits. 
  • We thought this interactive chart at the bottom of the Ocaloosa County School District, FL website was one of the more unique and transparent presentations of financial data we have seen.  It summarizes spending from a local sales tax by building, by amount spent, and by year.   The map was created by a local Citizens Oversight Committee.
  •  Beaufort County School District, SC has created a "Virtual Calming Room," an online portal with links to exercise and yoga, live animal cams, puzzles and games, and hotline resources. 
  • Indianapolis Public Schools, IN reports their 'Freshman On Track" (FOT) rate "improved from 65% in 2020-21 to 84% in 2021-22. The goal is 87% for the 2022-23 school year.  Because of the success of the Freshman on Track program, the district instituted a Sophomore on Track program during the 2021-2022 school year that yielded a 75% on-track rate for the first semester of last year.  . . "
  • In more busing trends, School Town of Highland, IN will allow out-of-district drivers to have their children attend the district's schools.  In Nash County Public Schools, NC they have adopted staggered school start times, with high school at 7:30, elementary at 8 am, and middle school at 8:30.  In Charlottesville City Schools, VA they report, "As we look to fall 2022, our school bus challenges appear to be worse, not better."  The district is launching a "Talk and Walk" initiative designed to encourage walking, use of public transportation, biking, and mini school buses. "Our old transportation model is not going to work for this fall or the future," they conclude. 

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