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A Blog from New America's Federal Education Budget Project

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Friday News Roundup: Week of October 29-November 2

Published:  November 2, 2012

After years of cuts, big spending increase in proposed Colorado budget

Despite rough economy, school spending climbs in Illinois

Parents informed of additional spending cuts needed for the Birmingham school system

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval fails to resolve school district, union grant feud

After years of cuts, big spending increase in proposed Colorado budget
After a series of cuts to the state education budget, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) has proposed big spending increases for education in his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal. Under the proposed budget, K-12 education spending would increase by 4.8 percent over fiscal year 2013 levels to $213 million, which translates to $185 more per student compared to the current fiscal year. Total spending for higher education would increase to $68.3 million, which is a 2.3 percent increase over 2013 totals. Even with increased state spending, however, the governor is still allowing for colleges and universities to raise tuition by up to 9 percent compared to last year. Republicans in the state legislature have had mixed reactions to the Democratic governor’s budget proposal. More here…

Despite rough economy, school spending climbs in Illinois
New data released by the state of Illinois showed that the amount spent per pupil in its schools has risen from almost $9,500 in 2007 to $11,664 in the 2010-11 school year. Average teacher and administrator salaries have also risen over the same time period; teachers made an average of almost $67,000 in 2011, up from $58,000 in 2007, before the recession. The increase in costs was in spite of fiscal challenges posed by the recession that forced the state to cut aid to schools below expected levels.  The cuts have forced districts to cover the increased costs by emptying reserve funds or cutting spending in other places. Some districts have spent well over the state average – more than $20,000 per student in some cases – but have not necessarily seen improvement in student test scores. Research suggests that higher spending does not necessarily correlate to higher test scores. More here…

Parents informed of additional spending cuts needed for the Birmingham school system
An additional $12 million must be cut from schools in Birmingham, Alabama, a state official informed a group of parents at an event sponsored by the Birmingham Council of PTAs. A money-saving plan introduced last summer that demoted some faculty and staff saved only $8 million of the expected $12 million savings, leaving the city shy of a state requirement that it maintain at least one month’s operating budget in its reserves at all times – about $17 million for the district. The new cuts will mean additional demotions for teachers and some school closings, in part because some teachers were grandfathered into a rule last summer that allowed them to retain their previous salaries for one year before being demoted. Former State Superintendent Ed Richardson, who is heading the intervention to get the Birmingham school district, said that the main problem is there are too many schools in the district, with many excess schools at the middle school level. Shifts in population and lax enforcement of attendance zones further exacerbate the issue. More here…

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval fails to resolve school district, union grant feud
Teachers union officials in Nevada’s Clark County School District, the second-largest district in the country, remained at an impasse this week against school district officials hoping to apply to the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top district-level competition. The competition, which could mean $40 million in federal money for the district if it wins an award, requires sign-off from local teachers unions before submission. However, union officials said they had not had a large enough role in writing the federal grant application and refused to acquiesce. The application included money targeted to literacy interventions and access to technology at some of the district’s poorest schools, as well as funding for new faculty members to support English language learners.  Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval sat down with school district and union officials this week in an effort to broker an agreement that would allow the application to go through, but hadn’t reached a deal hours before the application deadline. More here…

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