Pandemic could lead to ‘major upheaval’ in school district budgets

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

It took 10 years for some states to recover from the Great Recession — and to see surpluses they could use to increase funding for K-12 education. How they weather the “economic shock” brought on by the novel coronavirus will depend on several factors, including the duration of the pandemic, the size of their rainy day funds, and whether they act quickly to keep budgets balanced by increasing revenue or making cuts, experts say.

Districts won’t see the immediate effects of a recession. In fact, because of the closures, some are now “underspending” in areas such as professional development, substitute teachers, events and utilities. But as sales tax revenues drop, district finances could be in for a “major upheaval” in the 2020-21 school year. Districts in states where a greater portion of funding comes from the state level will also feel deeper effects than those that rely more heavily on property taxes.

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