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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Weathering the storm: School funding in the COVID-19 era -

Weathering the storm: School funding in the COVID-19 era -
Weathering the storm: School funding in the COVID-19 era

Bruce D. Baker, Mark Weber, and Drew Atchison

As COVID-19 takes a toll on education budgets, federal and state leaders should take specific steps to minimize the damage done to high-poverty schools.


Recent research into the economics of education leads to the inescapable conclusion that if we want our public schools to serve all children well, then we must provide them with equitable and adequate funding. Viewed across several decades, school and district spending data from across the United States reveal a clear pattern: When budgets have increased, students have seen significant gains in achievement and a range of other desirable outcomes (Jackson, 2018). Conversely, when school funding has been cut, student performance has suffered; and the deeper those cuts have been — consider, for example, the sharp budgetary declines during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 — the worse the student outcomes (Jackson, Wigger, & Xiong, 2018; Shores & Steinberg, 2017). Simply put, money matters 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public schools will likely experience even greater revenue losses in the coming years than they did during the Great Recession. Further, it appears that safely reopening schools in the fall of 2020 will itself be costly. In districts where school buildings are open, much smaller class sizes will be required to meet social distancing guidelines and contain the spread of the coronavirus; this, in turn, will require hiring additional personnel, finding new classroom space, and perhaps creating staggered schedules. It will mean more instructional hours for teachers, more staff hours spent cleaning and sanitizing facilities, and more complicated bus routes. Schools will have to budget for additional time and effort from maintenance and operations staff, food service workers, and other support positions. Nursing and other medical services — already inadequate in many schools (Willgerodt, Brock, & Maughan, 2018) — will need to be improved. And, to ensure equitable internet access when distance learning is required, districts will have to redouble their investments in broadband and portable computers. Finally, since learning losses due to this spring’s school closures CONTINUE READING: Weathering the storm: School funding in the COVID-19 era -