The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) recently conducted a survey with districts to determine what impact the budget impasse has had on them currently and in the future. The results show that districts have made difficult decisions and continue to do so. Some have had to borrow money, miss payments or halt programs due to the budget impasse. The association received survey responses from 195 districts in 57 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
The problems for school districts are compounded by the fact that at the same time that they are unsure of what additional funding they will receive for the remainder of the current 2015-16 school year, they are required to be developing their 2016-17 budgets. Certainly this budget season is far from the normal course of business, but the laws that dictate the rules and timeframes for the creation of local spending plans force districts to make decisions without all of the facts at hand.
Below are some highlights of the study. The full version can be found online at https://www.psba.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Budget-survey-results-FINAL-02082016.pdf.
- For districts that reported needing to borrow, the impact was significant and widespread. The majority of those responding to the survey reported having to borrow at least $1 million. The average amount borrowed was about $3.5 million, the minimum was $500,000 and the maximum amount was $10 million.
- Many districts reported missed payments or partial payments to charter and cyber charter schools (29%); employee pension contributions (17%); and vendors (14%).
- The survey showed that 18% of respondents experienced a negative impact on their credit rating.
- Respondents reported either cutting or decreasing programs such as teacher/administrator professional development (21%); instructional materials/supplies (19%); technology (18%); building maintenance (16%); and tutoring/remediation for students (14%).
- A majority (63%) of districts said they would not be able to make it the remainder of the year without borrowing money if a budget is not passed.
- An overwhelming majority (87%) of districts responding believed they would be forced to raise additional local tax revenue in 2016-17 to meet state education mandates.
CONTACT: Steve Robinson, Senior Director of Communication (717-506-2450, ext. 3315)