School districts, already operating in their fourth consecutive year of budget cuts, do not anticipate returning to pre-recession funding levels for several years, a new study found.
In the survey, released Thursday by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), school administrators report continued erosion of fiscal resources available to school districts, as the worst recession in recent history continues to impact state and local budgets.
“Weathering the Storm: How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact Schools” is the twelfth in a series of studies by AASA examining the impact of the economic recession on schools. It is based on a survey of 528 school administrators in February 2012.
Respondents project new budget cuts in the 2013-14 school year, though the cuts may not be as deep as in the earlier years of the recession.
Respondents also identified factors that could undermine whatever fragile economic stability is starting to take hold in their communities, including the cessation of emergency federal funding and the threat of drastic mid-year cuts related to sequestration.
School districts are bracing for the edge of the funding cliff that comes with the cessation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment and Emergency Education Jobs Fund dollars this school year. Administrators are also bracing for deep cuts (9.1 percent reductions) in January 2013, stemming from the Budget Control Act and sequestration.
“While the survey data show glimmers of potential easing of recessionary pressures, the potential threats to economic stability still loom large,” AASA Executive Director Daniel Domenech said, “Our surveys document how unprecedented fiscal hardship has forced district and school administrators to answer increasingly complex and tough questions over these last years.
“This survey highlights how the confluence of continued budget cuts, cessation of emergency federal dollars and the very real threat of sequestration could threaten the economic recovery starting to take hold at the state and local level.”
According to the survey:
School districts across the nation continue to report a breadth and depth of budget cuts.
• More than four-fifths (81.4 percent) of districts described their district as inadequately funded, down only slightly from 84 percent in December 2010.
• Nearly three-quarters (71.2 percent) of districts reported a cut in state/local revenues between 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Stop-gap efforts to avoid or minimize job cuts were short-lived, and reductions in force will continue to be a reality in the near future.
• About two-thirds (68.2 percent) of respondents eliminated positions in 2011-12, virtually identical to the 68 percent in 2010-11 and close to the 65.5 percent who anticipate doing so in 2012-13.
To view the new AASA study, click here.