School districts around the country are laying off teachers, cutting instructional programs, and eliminating student activities as they absorb the lingering effects of the economic recession, a new report says.
And while the recession is said to have ended officially in 2009, it could take up to a decade for district budgets to recover to pre-recession funding levels, according to the report. It was released last week by the Center for Public Education, which is a part of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Schools Boards Association.
The report says the reason for the slow return to fiscal health is that district budgets are likely to suffer from lagging home prices, thin state budgets, and reduced federal stimulus funding, which is expected to run out by 2011. States are also likely to have to cover higher costs in employee-retirement programs, which are underfunded, among other financial burdens.
Another problem area for districts: They are complying with the “underfunded mandates” of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as with their own states’ academic requirements, the center contends.
The report draws from a number of sources, including a March 2010 survey from the American Association of School Administrators. That survey found that 78 percent of districts said they planned to cut budgets during the 2010-11 school year, up from 64 percent in 2009-10.
That information was collected before Congress approved the Education Jobs Fund, which provided $10 billion in aid to help save school positions. In a conference call with reporters, Jim Hull, a senior policy analyst at the center, said that while the jobs fund will help districts, the long-term outlook remains bleak.
A version of this article appeared in the October 13, 2010 edition of Education Week as For Districts, Recession Recovery May Be Slow