Week of 8/22: Expenditure Increases

This week we look at expenditures for 118 of the largest 200 school district budgets from 26 states that are currently available for review

1. As part of Burbio's growing School Budget Tracker service we are compiling granular categorizations of K-12 district spending, but also higher level summaries that allow for preliminary observations.  This week we look at expenditures for 118 of the largest 200 school district budgets from 26 states that are currently available for review.  The average increase in expenditures for these districts, driven by stimulus spending, was 10.8% from the school year ending 2020/21 to 2021/22, and average expenditures for the school year 2022/23 are 16.5% higher than the 2020/21 school year.   Below is a chart showing the distribution of spending shifts over the two year period across these budgets:
District Spending Overview 8-20-22
2. Burbio's has now compiled over 5,400 ESSER plans with over $85 billion in allocations and this week we wanted to profile updated figures on spending in the category of Mental and Physical Health.  Below are the percentage of districts with spending in the identified subcategories.  Taken together, 61% of districts are spending in at least one of the categories noted, but below is the detailed breakdown: 
ESSER Chart - Mental and Physical Health 8-20
3. By the end of this week just over 70% of US K-12 students will be in the classroom.  We note varying use of metrics in districts across the country across subjects like school disruptions, masks, and isolation: 
  • Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School, Albuquerque, NM went remote this week due to 3% of students and staff testing positive for Covid 19. The school explained,  "This announcement has generated interest from the press, several state legislators, and generally concerned citizens . .  . . in our case we have reached the point of going remote for five (5) calendar days because that is what we, as a community, agreed we would do last September (2021) when the New Mexico Public Education Department asked all schools to come up with an Enhanced Covid-safe Practices plan . .  . . . . we agreed to move to remote learning for five calendar days if we exceeded the threshold of 3%  . . . .. . I want to be extremely clear that . . . .  our school is not closed.  The learning continues, with students following their normal bell schedule and having synchronous time with all teachers. . .  ."    
  • The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control advises following CDC guidance on an ongoing basis, but recommends additional mitigation during outbreaks. "It is considered an outbreak when 20 percent or more children plus staff in a shared setting – such as a classroom, childcare room, sports team with more than five people – are diagnosed with or absent/sent home due to COVID-19 within 72 hours of each other," reads the letter. 
  • Kansas City, KS Public Schools report "If COVID-19 related absences exceed the 10% threshold in any location, the affected building will return to mask requirements and will need to drop below the threshold before moving to optional masking . . . "
  • SAU 48, NH reports for positive Covid 19 cases, individuals "may return to school (after five days) as long as they are experiencing symptom improvement and are 24 hours fever free.  These individuals must wear a mask on days 6-10."
  • Goshen Community Schools, IN  reports that if a student or staff member tests positive for Covid 19 they can return symptom-free at Day 6, and wear a mask through Day 8.   
  • Hendry County School District, FL issued their "COVID Guidelines for Schools" on August 10th, outlining a policy of returning to school 24 hours after being fever-free. The document ends with the following, "Teachers and Staff without symptoms will work. As essential employees all School Board staff will work (until or unless symptoms develop.) Please treat this as you would any illness."
  • Separately, Mannsville Public Schools, a tiny district in Oklahoma, closed this past week due to Covid 19 case rates. 
4.  While the issue is well documented, it is worth noting we continue to see bus-related disruptions as the school year begins. 
  • Warren County Public Schools, KY  has had to establish "designated bus route stops in certain neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs. Impacted families will be responsible for getting their children to the bus route stops in the morning and home from the stops in the afternoon . . ."
  • Albuquerque Public Schools, NM  notes that currently  "some Albuquerque Public Schools buses are late picking up and dropping off students, some buses are crowded, some bus stops have moved, and some students are no longer eligible to ride the bus. . ." and provides background and context for the current situation, including state-specific funding formulas that were reducing service options before 2020. 
  • St Louis Public Schools, MO reported last week, "Six high schools and two elementary schools . . . .   will have bus service temporarily suspended as we continue what has been a summer-long process of getting enough bus drivers to meet our needs   . . . .This is a challenging time, but we are working hard to address every issue  . . . ."
  • Krum ISD, TX will not be adding any new student riders who live within 2 miles of their schools to bus services at the current time due to shortages.  Irving ISD, TX will be "running routes longer for the first few weeks school."
  • In Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, AK notes a day earlier the district's bus service "shared that they will not have enough bus drivers to run all regular education routes in the core area, due to the national bus driver shortage and competition with tour bus companies. The unexpected driver shortage will require rolling transportation cancellations for the start of this school year, with an update by Friday, August 26."
  • Guyman Public School, OK notes in this cheerful Facebook post, "BUS DRIVERS ARE AWESOME! (But they are in short supply!) This year, if you are able to take your child to school, and pick them up, please do. Explore other ways as well, such as carpooling with friends, family, or neighbors. We appreciate your help!"

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