featured graphic for California State Legislative Analyst's Office during COVID-19

Update on school district budgets

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has just published the following report:

Update on School District Budgets

Over the past year, school districts have seen significant fluctuation their near-term fiscal outlook due to additional costs related to the coronavirus disease 2019 emergency and changes in the state’s budget outlook. The state typically does not have aggregated financial information for all school districts until nine months after the end of the fiscal year. To have an earlier sense of district spending for 2019-20 and their 2020-21 outlook, we collected financial information from a representative sample of school districts and estimated the statewide trends. We find that, despite significant fiscal uncertainty, district budgets generally seem stable this year. The state budget largely avoided reductions to schools and provided fiscal relief through one-time federal funding and lower pension contribution rates. The one-time federal funding has led to the most notable change in spending for 2019-20 and 2020-21—a significant increase in books and supplies—which districts are mainly using to purchase additional technology associated with distance learning and the personal protective equipment needed for reopening schools. In future years, the aforementioned fiscal supports will recede and districts will be left with pension and health benefit costs ratcheting higher on the one hand and reduced funding growth—a consequence of declining student attendance—on the other. The level of state funding for schools will be a key factor affecting how school districts adapt to these cost pressures in the coming years.

This report is available using the following link: https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4301?utm_source=laowww&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=4301

This article was released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.