Now, in 2018, a decade removed from the depths of the recession, many state and local education agencies have yet to return to pre-recession funding levels and funding pressures continue to be a reality in their day-to-day existence, according to a report released last week by AASA.

During the depths of the nation’s greatest recession, AASA conducted a series of surveys detailing the cumulative impact of the recession and funding cuts on our nation’s public schools and the students they serve. These surveys are part of AASA’s Economic Impact Survey Series, which helped detail the impact of the recession on the nation’s schools.

This latest iteration comes as states and schools mark 10 years since the start of the recession, and report varied levels of recovery. To that end, AASA conducted a national survey of superintendents in December 2017 to gauge the extent to which schools continue to experience fiscal hardship as well as their capacity and approach to returning to pre-recession funding levels.

Some key findings from the survey:

  • Nearly three-quarters (72.5 percent) of respondents described their school district as inadequately funded, compared to 24.5 percent reporting being adequately funded and 2.8 percent reporting a surplus. This is down from 83 percent in the fall of 2015 and 81 percent in March of 2012, but still above the 67 percent reported in October 2008.
  • When asked to identify the various program and service cuts their district had considered and/or implemented in the response to budget pressures, the top five items implemented as cuts in the last five years were:
    • Reducing staff level (non-instructional) hiring (65.5%);
    • Deferring maintenance (65.4%);
    • Eliminating non-essential travel (65.2%);
    • Joining bulk purchasing groups/co-ops (63.8%); and
    • Reducing consumable supplies (62%).
  • When asked what percentage of their local budget is being used to cover federal mandates related to special education,
    • 10% of respondents indicated that it was less than 10% of total spending.
    • 48.2% of respondents indicated they used 10-20%;
    • 25.6% reporting 20-30%; and
    • 8.5% reporting they used 30-40%.

View the full report:  Ten Years Later: How Funding Pressures Continue to Impact Our Nation’s Schools