By January 2012, the 2013 budgets for Delaware’s schools will begin to take shape, and it has already been rumored that our Leadership in Dover is looking to make even deeper cuts to Education. Already we have one district, Laurel, that is floundering on the edge of not being able to meet its finances after April 2012. Many administrators, school boards, and teachers associations have sat down and looked at where we are today compared to where we were just a few years earlier. Since FY2008, State funding has been completely eliminated for the following programs:
* Reading Resource Teachers $9,431,500
* Math Specialists $3,071,700
* Limited English Proficiency Grant $1,625,000
* Technology Block Grant $1,354,000
* School-Based Discipline Program $8,213,900
* Tax Relief Allocation $17,549,500
* Academic Excellence Allotment $4,595,600
* Extra Time Programs $10,428,000
* Tuition Reimbursement $1,100,000
* Teacher Cadre & Mentoring $1,128,400
TOTAL STATE PROGRAM ELIMINATIONS: $58,497,600
In addition to these program eliminations, many districts have also experienced several reductions in base funding levels:
Division II AOC(funding for classroom, and other day to day supplies)Unit Value $3,274,020 (FY08 $3,279 to FY12 $2,955 at 10,105 Dlv II units)
Division II Energy Unit Value $2,455,515 (FY08 $2,678 to FY 12 $2,435 at 10,105 Div II units)
Professional Development Funding $1,300,000 (FY08 $2,866,500 to FY 12 $1,566,500)
Beyond these program eliminations and base funding reductions, increasing demands are being placed on
local funds (Shift of 10% Transportation Costs $7,133,800) at a time when local assessed values are essentially flat, and other local revenues such as interest, indirect cost and cost recovery collections are in decline. For those wondering what losses looked like around the state:
FY 2012 Loss Based On 2008 Amount Per Unit
NCCVT ($3,839,781 )
Red Clay ($9,297,025)
Caesar Rodney ($2,374,300)
Lake Forest ($1,591,437)
Poly tech ($554,096)
Cape Henlopen ($2,506,117)
Indian River ($2,334,774)
Total all Districts: ($63,017,540)
So bottom line is that the cost of educating the next generation is going up in a time when every taxpayer is doing more with less, and raising local taxes is not an option for schools. So what can all those who have a stake in Education do to prevent our students from being cheated out of an education? Here are a few ideas we are discussing in Milford on November 8th with the community at a district wide meeting at the Milford High School Auditorium:
~ Begin lobbying efforts now, prior to the Governor’s Recommended Budget
~ Focus attention on the cumulative state funding reductions that have occurred since FY2008.
~ E.mphasize that federal stimulus funding (State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and EdJobs Funding) were intended to ‘stabilize’ state and local agencies that were experiencing revenue reductions. As revenues increase, these funds should therefore be utilized to restore previous funding reductions.
~ Target restoration funding as follows: 1) restoration of EdJobs funding; 2) restoration of State Fiscal Stabilization funding.
~ Recognize the need for efficiencies and budget reductions, but public education has been disproportionally impacted in recent years.
~ Restoring the public education budget back to its FY2010 percentage of the total budget (33.33%) would add $59,650,400 to the public education budget.
~ Collaborate with DSEA to lobby for funding restoration.
~ Establish consistent individual district meetings with local legislators.
~ Provide legislators with specific legislation to support.
~ Provide flexibility to districts in severe fiscal hardship by allowing districts to ‘cash in’ as many units as necessary to maintain solvency, and to not forfeit Division IIIunit funding for cashed in units.
~ Target the message that the “Foundation is Crumbling”. While we have the benefit of many short-term funding initiatives (i.e. Race to the Top) the core K-12 public education finance structure is not sufficient to maintain current service and performance levels.