Coronavirus Creates Financial Crisis For American Schools: NPR

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broken school
broken school

Austin Beutner looked haggard, his face was a curtain of worry lines. The principal of the country’s second largest school district sat at a desk last week delivering a video address to families in Los Angeles. But it started with a clear message, clearly intended for another audience:

Lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

“The cuts to school funding will have an eternal impact on the lives of children,” said Beutner less than a week after the California governor called for emergency cuts in education spending. The danger children face from these cuts, warned Beutner, “is just as real a threat to them as the coronavirus.”

Similar alarms are ringing in the country’s districts. With the country’s attention still focused on the COVID-19 health crisis, school leaders warn of a financial crisis that could devastate many neighborhoods and push back a whole generation of students.

“I think we are on the verge of seeing a school funding crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern history,” said Rebecca Sibilia, CEO of EdBuild, a school finance organization. “We are looking at devastation that we could not have imagined … a year ago. “

“Truly shocking decline”

Schools receive almost half of their funding from state coffers. But with businesses closed in response to the pandemic and unemployment rates already hovering around 15% – well above its peak of 10% during the Great Recession – state revenues and sales taxes are collapsing.

For April, the first full month of coronavirus closings, states are now reporting “really shocking declines” in tax revenue, says Michael Leachman at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Some states lost “as much as 25% or a third of their revenue from the previous year in the same month,” said Leachman.

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