Feature Article - June 2020
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Trends in Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School District

Revenues & Expenditures

Schools have been among the least likely to report that their revenues are increasing year-over-year. However, according to this year's survey, nearly a quarter (24.4%) said their revenues were higher in 2019 than in 2018. This is up from just 13% who reported higher revenues in 2018. Another 63.4% said their revenues had been unchanged from 2018 to 2019. And 12.2% saw a decrease. (See Figure 50.)

When the original Industry Report Survey was taken in January 2020, slightly more (28.7%) school respondents were anticipating a revenue increase in 2020, compared with 2019. Another 59.7% were expecting no change, and 11.6% were expecting a decrease.

The COVID-19 Update Survey taken in May delivered a much different result, though schools were somewhat less likely to report a heavy impact to their revenues than other respondents. One-quarter of school respondents in May said they expected revenues in 2020 to be either higher than (5%) or the same as (20%) revenues in 2019. Three-quarters (75%) now believe that their revenues in 2020 will be lower. Some 42.5% of school respondents said their revenues in 2020 would be 10 to 20% lower than 2019. Another 17.5% said revenues would be down by 30 to 40%, and 15% said revenues would fall by 50% or more.

From 2018 to 2019, the average operating expenditure reported by school respondents increased by 87%, from an average of $1,310,000 in 2018 to $2,450,000 in 2019.

Looking forward, in January, school respondents were expecting their average operating cost to grow by 4.5% from 2019 to 2020, to an average of $2,560,000. They further projected a 1.2% decrease from 2020 to 2021, to an average of $2,530,000.

School respondents report that they recover an average of 42.9% of their operating costs via revenue. This is up substantially from 2019, when school respondents recovered an average of 31.4% of their costs via revenues. Some 40.7% of school respondents in 2020 said they cover 30% or less of their operating costs with revenues. Another 10.4% said they earn back between 31 and 50% of their revenues, and 5.2% earn back 51 to 70%. Nearly one-quarter (24.4%) of school respondents said they recover 71% or more of their operating costs via revenues.

School respondents were less likely than non-school respondents to report that they had taken action to reduce their operation costs, though more than three-quarters (76.3%) had done so, and this was up significantly from 2019, when 66.7% of school respondents had acted to reduce expenditures. In 2020, 81.8% of non-school respondents said they had taken such action. By far the most common measure employed by school respondents to reduce expenses was improving energy efficiency. Nearly half (46.7%) of school respondents said they had taken action to improve energy efficiency. Other measures taken by somewhat fewer school respondents include: reducing staff (24.4%); putting construction and renovation plans on hold (24.4%); increasing fees (17.8%); and cutting programs or services (16.3%).