School Districts, Oversight, and ARP Education Aid
California may have to intervene to stabilize San Francisco schools' finances and states have submitted plans to use ARPA education aid.
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) received a lot of attention this week after news the State of California may have to intervene and assume oversight of its troubled finances.
Earlier this year the district reported it expected to end fiscal 2022 with a $75 million budget gap that would grow by an additional $94 million in 2023, in part due to the cost of reopening schools amid the pandemic. The school board has until Dec. 15 to approve a “fiscal stabilization plan” to balance this year’s budget and next to avoid state intervention. California has a strong history of supporting its schools and stepping in when needed.
States have a history of intervention in schools and other local government units during periods of fiscal stress. Hartford, CT; Atlantic City, NJ; and Petersburg, VA; are some examples in recent years where states have provided assistance. A number of states also developed early warning systems to identify fiscal distress before it becomes too late.
This week’s digest looks at state oversight and some interesting reads on the topic, in particular, is their a racial bias?
For more information on how schools started off the year, see the Sept 13 digest: School is Back in Session - 2021 Ed.
California Takeover of San Francisco USD in The News
S.F. schools' financial tailspin prompts state to intervene in face of massive shortfall San Francisco Chronicle
‘Time is of the essence’: San Francisco’s school district faces possible state takeover San Francisco Examiner
$100M Deficit In San Francisco Public Schools Budget Patch.com
States Have a History of Financial Intervention in Schools
Gary schools, once on financial brink, are suddenly flush with federal money WVPE
Three decades later, NJ says goodbye to its rule over Paterson schools NJ Spotlight
Harrisburg schools progress report: State takeover brings changes, but much remains to be done Penn Life
Other Recent News on State Interventions
Murphy Extends State's Atlantic City Takeover 4 More Years US News
Pa. court opens path for Chester city to sell regional water utility to Aqua Pa. to get the city out of hock The Philadelphia Inquirer
Mt. Vernon Mayor Calls for State Ag, West. DA to Investigate City’s Finances Yonkers Times
CHART OF THE WEEK
Since March 2020, the U.S. Department of Education has made more than $200 billion in stimulus funds available to schools, colleges, and universities through the CARES, CERRSA, and American Rescue Plan Acts.
Schools across the country will receive an unprecedented amount of federal fiscal support. States receiving the most American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund allocations include:
New York: $8,988,780,836
Florida was in the news this week as the last state to submit a plan on how to use $2.3 billion in Federal aid, with the Governor suggesting at one point the state didn’t need the funds. However, states can spend ARP school aid through September 2024.
Why this Matters:
Nearly all — more than 97% — of educators reported seeing some learning loss in their students over the past year when compared with children in previous years.
The ARP ESSER aid can be used for both near-term and long-term K-12 needs.
Two-thirds of $122.7 billion ESSER funds appropriated under ARP are immediately available to states, while remaining funds will be made available after states submit ESSER implementation plans.
The funding is a unique opportunity to provide training to educators, 1:1 tutoring programs, summer and after school programs, and other ways to improve education standards.
How some states are using the aid:
Alaska is using ARP ESSER funds to support in-house school social workers who will assist district staff with social work tasks in rural and remote districts
Hawaii is initiating a three-year study beginning with the 2021-2022 school year to track sixth graders as they progress through middle school to assess the impact of the strategies and interventions implemented on students’ academic, social, emotional, and behavioral performance.
Louisiana will use funds to support the state’s Science of Reading initiative to improve literacy and decrease the number of students “at risk” for reading difficulties.
South Carolina is using funding to employ post-secondary students as summer teaching interns beginning in 2021
A complete list of proposals and approvals for states can be found on DOE’s website.
Municipal Takeovers: Examining State Discretion and Local Impacts in Michigan University of Michigan
The Issue: Other factors, beyond financial stress, may indicate when a state intervenes to assume oversight of a community.
We find financial stress alone does not explain takeover decisions, and that a city’s reliance on state revenue and racial and economic context play a role. Cities that have been taken over are more likely to experience drinking water privatization and rate increases than similarly financially stressed cities.
Evaluating Education Governance: Does State Takeover of School Districts Affect Student Achievement? Brown University
The Issue: Are states better positioned to run schools than locally elected officials?
On average, we find no evidence that takeover generates academic benefits. Takeover appears to be disruptive in the early years of takeover, particularly to English Language Arts achievement, although the longer-term effects are less clear.
Any opinions expressed herein are those of the author and the author alone.