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Giving Compass' Take:
• Matt Barnum details the unbalanced economic impact on schools in high-poverty areas and what can be done to lessen the blow.
• How can you influence policy to provide a more secure safety net for schools in high-poverty areas? What can we do on our own to help those disproportionately affected by COVID-19?
• Here's why you should increase your own giving efforts today.
When the last recession hit school budgets about a decade ago, it didn’t hit them equally.
Affluent school districts saw their state funding drop by more than $500 per student after the downturn. High-poverty districts in the same state lost much more: over $1,500 per student in state funds.
Now, the coronavirus has brought much of the American economy to a halt. Another recession is possible, even likely. And the poorest school districts, which are particularly reliant on state funds, may once again bear the brunt of the budget crunch.
But allowing the highest-poverty districts to absorb the biggest cuts is also avoidable.
“It’s very important that states not repeat the mistakes they made during the recession,” said David Knight, an education researcher at the University of Washington who did the analysis of Great Recession funding. “They did their best to patch holes, but they let equity fall apart.”
Here’s why school budgets are in such trouble — and what the last recession says about how state and federal officials could blunt the impact.
Most state revenue comes from income taxes and sales taxes. Workers are being laid off, which means income taxes are falling. And people are spending less, which means less is being collected in sales taxes.
Since local funding for education comes mostly from property taxes, affluent areas have more of it. Across the country, state funding disproportionately goes to poorer areas to help level the playing field among districts.
Because state dollars are more at risk, the economic downturn could hit low-income students and their schools the hardest.
Allowing high-poverty schools to experience the biggest budget cuts is still a policy choice. State lawmakers will determine which schools face cuts when they construct their new budgets.
Read the full article about coronavirus' economic shock on schools in high-poverty areas by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat.