As state school funding declines dramatically, districts look for new ways to save money
Hiring quality teachers. Cutting class sizes. Modernizing classrooms. Renovating facilities. All of these go a long way in boosting student achievement. They also require sufficient funding.
But school districts around the country are struggling with financial shortfalls as states continue to devote significantly less money to K-12 education.
In 29 states, total state funding per K-12 student is lower than it was during the 2007-08 school year, before the Great Recession, according to analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In 17 states, that percentage drop in total state funding was 10 percent or more, largely because states cut funding and didn’t increase revenue. And in 19 states, local funding fell over the same period.
Arizona saw the biggest state funding change from 2008-2015 (-36.6 percent) followed by Florida (-22 percent), Alabama (-21.6 percent) and Idaho (-18 percent).
On average, 47 percent of school funding comes from the state. State-level K-12 cuts have a negative impact on school districts and students. Financial shortfalls undermine education reform and force school districts to scale back, leading to:
- Cuts in academic and student programs
- Reduction in staff
- Deferred building maintenance and poor learning environments
But there are ways to maintain and even enhance learning environments for students – and save money without cutting staff. Contracting facilities services can save up to 20 percent on facilities’ operating budgets. Those savings could be used to enhance student programs, hire quality teachers and revamp facilities.
Bentonville Public Schools in Arkansas has saved an estimated $300,000 each year on housekeeping expenses since contracting with SSC in 2008. At Richland Two in South Carolina, SSC helped the district become more environmentally friendly and supported three buildings in attaining LEED certification, while saving the district an estimated $12,000 per employee per year.
Outsourcing custodial services to SSC “helped save us significant dollars and eliminated all personnel headaches in that department,” said former Stephenville (Texas) Independent School District Superintendent Darrell Floyd. “The end result is cleaner buildings for our students and teachers. That’s what we’re after.”
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