You are here

Articles: Budget

A tornado safe room under construction in Moore, Oklahoma.

Tornadoes sweeping through parts of the nation and destroying schools are leading district leaders to create “safe rooms” for increased protection.

In May 2013, Moore, Okla., was hit by a tornado that destroyed two elementary schools and killed seven students. Moore Public Schools is rebuilding the schools with four safe rooms designed to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria to provide protection during tornadoes.

With new, smarter building technology to control energy use, school leaders can reduce their carbon footprint and use the money saved to fund projects that may have suffered from budget cuts. U.S. schools spend more on energy than they do “on computers and textbooks combined,” according to a past report by Energy Star.

“As much as 30 percent of a district’s total energy is used inefficiently or unnecessarily,” the report states.

Preschool students in the Granite School District receive Common Core-aligned instruction to prepare for kindergarten.

High-quality preschools in a Utah district began receiving funds from a first-of-its-kind, $4.6 million social impact bond from investment banking firm Goldman Sachs last fall. The goal is to improve instruction in order to prevent students from needing special education or remedial services.

Superintendent Garza speaks with an elementary student. Garza hopes to reduce achievement gaps between white students and minority students.

When Superintendent Karen Garza started her job at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia last July, she had barely unpacked when she found a perfect storm of budget planning: increased enrollment, deferred retirement system contributions and a major uptick in students needing ESOL services.

Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District is a recently-released documentary film about Pasadena USD that shows the challenges, triumphs and personalities of a moderate-sized public school system.

It was compromise that prevented a major teacher’s strike in February, as Portland Public Schools and the local union struck a bargain during an intense 24 hours of negotiating that ended months of deliberations.

International students and their U.S. classmates from Newcomb Central School District in New York go for a hike in the nearby Adirondack Mountains.

Districts hurting financially are recruiting tuition-paying foreign students to increase enrollment and diversity.

The number of international high school students coming to the United States with an F-1 education visa increased to nearly 65,500 in 2012, up from 6,500 in 2007, according to federal data.

Robert Nelson, superintendent of Chawanakee Unified SD, oversees students working on refurbished Apple MacBooks, saving the district thousands of dollars. (Photo: Will Drosche)

Just five years ago, Chawanakee USD, a small rural district nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in northern California, and the North Kansas City School District, a suburban district located just north of Kansas City, Mo., were at the starting lines of the digital revolution.

Baldwin County School District in Alabama spends $9 million per year on its Digital Renaissance program, which funds MacBook Air laptops for middle and high school students, and iPads for K2 students.

Before 4,450 MacBook Airs were distributed to students, before teachers were equipped and trained on their own devices, before test scores increased and the dropout rate decreased, the Mooresville Graded School District’s digital conversion started with a hard look at finances—one result of which was the elimination of more than 35 teaching positions.

Don Brann visits an elementary school in the Inglewood district—and listens to staff needs.

Donald Brann, state trustee of Inglewood USD, has only been on the job six months, but already teachers and administrators are seeing that things are different from what they used to be.

After the state takeover of the financially-struggling district, administrators say just having direct access and being able to communicate with him and receive quick answers to their questions is a change of pace. They had never seen the chief administrator visit their schools before.

The Wake County Public School System opened Rolesville High School last August, a four-story school with 111 teaching spaces to serve 2,262 students at full capacity. It was made possible with a bond issue.

The Puyallup School District in Washington brought a $279 million bond issue before the local community in February, with plans to move 4,000 students out of portable classrooms by constructing and expanding buildings. The measure lost narrowly—55 percent of voters said yes to an issue that needed 60 percent to pass.

Eighth graders at Richards Middle School learn how to access sites and information on their iPads. They learned about acceptable use, computer cyber safety, Evernote, Skydrive, and Blackboard.

When residents of Macomb County, Mich., tune into Pandora internet radio, they may be surprised to hear ads selling something quite different from landscaping, new cars, or home repair services.

Charles K. Trainor says an audit committee is an in-house, fail-safe mechanism that helps superintendents and the school board to identify risks and suggest solutions.

Tough economic conditions and shrinking revenues have increased competition for public funds. As a result, school districts are under intense scrutiny from state regulators and local taxpayers; any fiscal mismanagement receives harsh criticism.

Reports of districts eliminating school nurses or replacing them with unlicensed staffers are increasing nationwide, and student health care is suffering as a result, nursing advocates say. Among nurses’ responsibilities is caring for the estimated 3 million children with food allergies—a number representing an 18 percent increase from 1997 to 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control—and the 7.1 million children with asthma.

Students in the Orange County School District in North Carolina, above left, have sturdy laptops thanks to a blend of funding from a county sales tax and the district’s capital budget.

Prepare for all expenses

Implementing a 1-to-1 program involves more than just buying or leasing tablets or laptops, notes Terry Haas, chief financial officer of Mooresville Graded School District. District leaders also need to prepare for other costs, including setting up wired or wireless networking, and servers needed to support the additional computers and software. Technology staff also needs to be hired or expanded.

Pages