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Feature Article - June 2017

Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School Districts


Revenues & Expenditures

Schools continue to be among the least likely to report that their revenues are increasing, though there was a significant jump in that number from 2015 to 2016. While 12.5 percent of school respondents said their revenues had grown from 2014 to 2015, 21 percent saw revenues increase from 2015 to 2016. In that same time frame, though, the percentage who saw their revenues decrease also grew, from 13.4 percent to 16.8 percent. (See Figure 50.)


Looking forward, similar numbers expect increasing revenues, with 20.1 percent of school respondents projecting increases in 2017, and 23.1 percent projecting increases in 2018. However, 16.5 percent of school respondents said they think revenues will fall in 2017, and 14.4 percent expect further decreases to revenue in 2018.

School respondents saw a much more modest increase to their average operating expenditures from 2015 to 2016. While the general survey audience reported an increase of 17.5 percent, school respondents saw their operating expenditures increase by 2.4 percent, from $1,512,000 in 2015 to $1,548,000. Their average expenditure in 2016 was 24.3 percent lower than the average for all respondents of $2,044,000.

Looking forward, schools expect their operating expenditures to grow by 1.8 percent from 2016 to a total of $1,576,000 in 2018, a slightly smaller increase than the 3.5 percent growth expected among all respondents.

School respondents report that they recover, on average, 35.4 percent of their operating costs via revenue. This is up slightly from 2016, when schools recovered 32.4 percent of costs via revenue. Nearly one-half (47.3 percent) of school respondents reported that they recover 30 percent or less of their operating costs via revenue. Another 9 percent recover between 31 percent and 50 percent of their operating costs. Some 5.4 percent recover 51 percent to 70 percent of their costs. And 19.2 percent of school respondents said they recover at least 71 percent of their operating costs via revenues.

School respondents were less likely than non-school respondents to report that they had taken actions to reduce their operating costs, though a majority had done so. While 84 percent of non-school respondents said they had taken such action, 77 percent of school respondents had taken action to reduce their expenses, up from 74.4 percent in 2016. The most common measures employed by school respondents to reduce their operating costs included: improving energy efficiency (53.3 percent), reducing staff (24.8 percent), putting construction or renovation plans on hold (23.6 percent), increasing fees (23 percent), and cutting programs or services (17 percent).

School Facilities

As is generally the case, school respondents were among those most likely to report stable numbers of people using their facilities over time. From 2015 to 2016, 58.5 percent said the number of people using their facilities had stayed the same, while 34.5 percent reported an increase. (See Figure 51.) Looking forward, this trend holds, with 57.1 percent expecting usage to remain the same in 2016, and 58.5 percent expecting no change in 2018.