Feature Article - June 2014
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A Look at Trends in Schools & School Districts

Schools & School Districts

Schools continue to be the most deeply affected by the recession and the slowness of the recovery, as well as ongoing budgetary challenges at the federal, state and local level. The impact of sequestration—mandatory across-the-board budget cuts in federal education funding—has been felt disproportionately from one state to the next, but there is no doubt that many school districts continue to struggle.

Federal education revenues have historically represented a small portion—just 8 percent to 9 percent—of overall K-12 education spending, according to the AASA, The School Superintendents Association. But although the recession has ended, federal dollars continue to represent an above average (11.8 percent) share of education funding.

The final FY11 and FY12 appropriations agreements cut $1.5 billion in education programs, on top of the sequester, which cut another $2.4 billion from education programs. These cuts arrived at the same time that enrollment in public schools is growing.

"Investing in our nation's future through education will translate into improving student achievement, shrinking achievement gaps and increasing high school graduation rates," said Daniel Domenech, executive director, AASA. "If our country is serious about successfully competing in a 21st century global economy and bringing down unemployment rates, we need to focus on and prioritize investing in education."

Unfortunately, many of the budget cuts that have been necessary among public schools fall more heavily on such programs as athletics and recreation, as remaining dollars are more focused into instructional areas.

Schools respondents are far more likely to be from the Midwest than any other region. Some 46.2 percent reported that the Midwest is their home base. They were distantly followed by the West (17.1 percent), South Central region (16.3 percent), Northeast (12.4 percent) and South Atlantic (8 percent).

Likewise, respondents from schools were much more likely to be from rural areas than urban or suburban communities. More than half (56 percent) of schools respondents said they were located in rural areas. Just 27.6 percent were from suburban communities, and 16.4 percent were from urban areas.

The vast majority of schools respondents are representing public schools. Some 92 percent said they worked for public organizations. Only 6.8 percent said they were with private, nonprofit schools. And 1.2 percent said they were with private, for-profit organizations.

Schools respondents manage 6.9 facilities on average, falling near the average for all respondents of 6.4. This is lower than in 2013, when schools respondents managed an average of 8.1 facilities.

Schools were slightly more likely than other respondents to report that they had formed partnerships with outside organizations. While 83.6 percent of non-school respondents had formed partnerships, 86.4 percent of schools respondents had done so. The most common partnerships were formed with local schools (65.2 percent of schools respondents partnered with them), local government (44.4 percent), state government (43.6 percent), nonprofit organizations (22.4 percent) and federal government (22 percent).

Knowing the primary audience for school respondents' facilities reveals the types of schools primarily covered in the data provided. Similar to 2013, more than half (54.8 percent) of schools respondents said that teens ages 13 to 18 were the primary audience for their main facility. They were followed by those who claimed they served all ages (20.6 percent). Another 14.7 percent said their primary audience was made up of children ages 4 to 12.