Feature Article - June 2010
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A Look at Trends in Schools and School Districts


ccording to a recent survey of school administrators released in April 2010 by the American Association of School Administrators, schools are facing a difficult situation as stimulus funds begin to dwindle and grant programs experience new changes proposed by President Obama's administration. The study showed that school districts are lagging far behind the stability that has begun to take hold, and, in fact, budget cuts are likely to be more significant for 2010-11 than they were in 2008-09 or 2009-10.

More than two-thirds of respondents to this survey said they had cut personnel in 2009-10, and 90 percent were anticipating having to make cuts in 2010-11.

The impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (commonly referred to as the Stimulus Bill) was widely felt, saving an average of 20 personnel positions per school in the AASA survey. According to Recreation Management's Industry Report survey, more school respondents received help due to the legislation than any other type of facility. That said, only 35.8 percent of schools respondents said that the Stimulus Bill had helped them.

What's more, dollars allocated by the Act will cease, and when you combine this with the budgetary dilemma faced in many states and local governments, fiscal 2011 will be a very difficult year for schools. According to the AASA study, this will likely translate into budget cuts, job cuts and fewer resources for school programs and personnel.

It is understandable, then, that respondents to Recreation Management's survey from schools and school districts were highly concerned about the impact the downturn is having on their facilities. In fact, these respondents were the most likely to indicate that they are "extremely concerned." Just under half (45.9 percent) said they were extremely concerned about the impact of the economic downturn.

Budgets and Staff

Despite the affect of the downturn, respondents from schools tended to be more likely to expect stability in terms of their revenues, as well as the number of people using their facilities, than other respondents. From 2008 to 2009, 57.7 percent of schools respondents said that their revenues held steady, compared to 38.3 percent of the general survey population. That said, more than a quarter (27 percent) saw their revenues fall in this same time frame.

This performance is expected to grow worse this year, with well over a third (38.2 percent) expecting to see revenues decrease from 2009 to 2010; and even worse in 2011, when 40.4 percent are projecting a decrease. (See Figure 48.)