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States’ Education Budget Proposals for Next Year Not as Bleak as Many Predicted

states education budget proposals for next year not as bleak as many predicted
FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2021 file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines his 2021-2022 state budget proposal during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Newsom sent president-elect Joe Biden a letter on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, outlining shared priorities and areas where the state can work together with the new Democratic administration. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

Governors in several states are proposing increases in funding for education next year, buoyed by confidence that state revenues will improve from the deep recession caused by the pandemic.

As of this week, governors in 28 states had released budget blueprints for fiscal year 2022, which in states typically begins in July. It is up to state legislatures to approve budgets before they can become law.

Some states enact funding on a per-year basis, while others approve spending for two-year periods.

The funding picture for next fiscal may not be as dire as some had predicted, with several states proposing education funding increases, despite worries about falling tax revenues after deep economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic started being felt sharply in March.

“The additional federal aid to states that’s included in that last coronavirus relief bill will be helpful,” said Brian Sigritz, the director of state fiscal studies for the National Association of State Budget Officers, told EdWeek Market Brief.  That legislation, signed into law last month by former President Donald Trump, provided $54 billion in dedicated aid to K-12 schools.

The money will ease the burden on states “as they start to consider governors’ budget requests for overall and for K-12, specifically,” Sigritz said.

Here are a few highlights of how governors’ spending proposals address education.

California: In the country’s largest K-12 public school system, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a one-time $2 billion allocation to “augment” resources for schools to offer in-person instruction safely, according to the proposal.

The money may be used for purchasing personal protective equipment, expanding COVID-19 testing, improving ventilation and safety of indoor and outdoor learning spaces, teacher salaries, and social and mental health services, according to the budget.

In total, the government is proposing $85.8 billion for K-12 schools and community colleges over two years, a $14.9 billion increase and the highest level of funding for schools and community colleges ever in the state.

Newsom’s proposal predicts that increased revenues will come to the state as a result of a less severe economic downturn than anticipated, relatively low income losses among high-wage segments of the population, and a stronger stock market than expected.

Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget says the state’s education funding formula will decrease by $389 million, but proposes fully compensating for that using coronavirus relief money.

The state is projecting the decrease largely because of lower-than-expected attendance in the beginning of the school year. The governor’s office is proposing to allocate what will amount to a total of $1.9 billion in stimulus grants toward K-12 public and charter schools

Ducey proposes increasing spending on expanded early literacy, intervention programs, professional development, social-emotional learning, expanding the pipeline of teachers in low-income schools, statewide assessments.

The Republican is also calling for $40 million in additional money to expand broadband in rural communities and help bridge the digital divide.

Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan is proposing $7.5 billion for K-12 schools, about $213 million more than required by state funding formulas.

The state’s funding formula was set to reduce aid for fiscal year 2022 because of declining enrollment. But the governor’s office is holding local jurisdictions harmless for the decline. Specifically, Hogan is proposing $151.6 million for targeted tutoring grants in every local jurisdiction, $65.5 million for special education grants, $54.7 million for the expansion of early childhood initiatives, $53.7 million for pre-K supplemental grants, and $4.5 million for out-of-school programs.

South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster is proposing $35.2 million to maintain state aid to K-12 classrooms at the current level, and another $100 million in supplemental funding for instructional materials, as the state looks to replace all Common Core textbooks.

Notably, McMaster is calling the state’s general assembly to fund charter schools through a dedicated, recurring funding source. Such schools are currently funded through annual supplemental appropriations. McMaster has been a strong proponent of charter schools. Other proposed major investment areas include teacher training, placing nurses in schools, computer science and coding instruction, and school mental health counselors.

New York: In one of the nation’s largest K-12 markets, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an $848.8 million increase in formula-based school aid over its fiscal year 2021 funding amount of $25.9 billion.

But the state is proposing a $393 million reduction in a $3.7 billion aid package that includes funding for state boards of cooperative educational services, which procure educational materials for school districts. For at least next fiscal year, that reduction would be fully offset by federal coronavirus relief funds. The budget highlights afterschool programs, early college high schools, and smart schools innovation as major proposed investments.

State revenue forecasts have somewhat improved since last spring, when many states projected very significant declines at the outset of the pandemic, Sigritz said.

Though improved budget conditions will help states avert severe spending reductions, policymakers may be forced to defer certain costs, such as increasing teacher pay and planning increases in state funding formulas, he said.

“In most instances, states are still projecting less revenue than what they were before the outbreak of COVID-19,” he said. “It’s just that for many states, the revenue declines aren’t as sharp as what they were originally anticipating.”

If state budgets rebound significantly, it would represent a major turnaround from much of last year. Data released last fall by NASBO showed for the first time in roughly a decade — since the last recession —  the majority of states closed their fiscal year 2020 books with a decline in general revenue funds.

Forty-six states begin their fiscal year on July 1, with Alabama and Michigan starting theirs on Oct. 1, Texas starting its fiscal year on Sept. 1, and New York starting its fiscal year on April 1.

Photo: California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines his 2021-2022 state budget proposal  this month during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif.  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

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Tracking State and District Policies for Remote, Hybrid, and In-Person Instruction

tracking state and district policies for remote hybrid and in person instruction
Lisa DiRenzo gives her students instructions as they sit in desks spaced for proper social distance at the Post Road Elementary School, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in White Plains, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A pair of online databases give education companies and other organizations insights on the school reopening policies in individual states and school districts.

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How Education Companies Are Addressing Home Connectivity Challenges: 5 Tips

how education companies are addressing home connectivity challenges 5 tips
MB Market Trends Jan 212

Low bandwidth in students’ homes poses a challenge for education companies. Here’s how they’re responding, with products and workarounds.

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What Kinds of Companies Are Districts Turning To for the First Time During COVID-19?

what kinds of companies are districts turning to for the first time during covid 19
MB Exc Data Jan 14

Many school districts are cautious when it comes to taking risks. And a global pandemic would seem like an especially unlikely time for them to begin taking chances on new products delivered by unfamiliar companies.

EdWeek Market Brief recently surveyed district and school leaders on the circumstances in which they’ve worked with a vendor or organization…

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COVID-19 Fueling New B2B Relationships Across K-12 Education Industry

covid 19 fueling new b2b relationships across k 12 education industry
MB Market Trends Jan 72

The pandemic has laid bare needs that education companies are trying to address to new collaborations and partnerships.

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What Are School Districts’ Must-Have Needs for Hybrid Learning During COVID-19?

what are school districts must have needs for hybrid learning during covid 19
MB Exclusive Data Dec 24

EdWeek Market Brief asked district administrators, principals, and teachers what tools they need but aren’t currently getting to do hybrid teaching effectively.

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10 Stories That Mattered in the K-12 Market in 2020

10 stories that mattered in the k 12 market in 2020
MB EOY Dec 24

For many companies working in the K-12 market, the past year has been about prevailing in the face of hardship, and positioning themselves for what they hope are more stable and successful days ahead.

As soon as the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down in-person classes in the spring, education businesses across the industry — from the biggest companies in the market to startups — were immediately forced to recalibrate how they could help school systems in states of upheaval.

Those strategic adjustments have been ongoing, from the frantic days of March and April through today, and more changes will surely last through much of 2021.

Initially, many districts warned vendors to quit overwhelming them with sales pitches, as administrators and teachers scrambled to manage the upheaval in their schools. Many districts, however, didn’t wait long before they began reaching out for help, seeking advice from vendors on how to make remote learning work on a scale they’d never imagined.

Now, many districts are laying out plans to return to in-person or hybrid instruction, if they haven’t made that transition already.

EdWeek Market Brief has been tracking evolving needs in the COVID era through our reporting, our surveys of K-12 officials and businesses, and our special reports. We’ve delivered intel to our readers, not only through stories and other online content, but also through our regular webinars.

Here’s our recap of the most important topics we covered in 2020, as judged by those that were most popular among our readers:

1 — How the Coronavirus Is Reshaping Districts’ Spending Priorities

Of all of the questions that education companies have been weighing during the confusion of the pandemic, one of the biggest has come down to this: How is COVID changing K-12 plans for purchasing specific types of products and services?

This story, published in the late spring as the full might of the pandemic came into focus, presents the results of an EdWeek Market Brief nationally representative survey of district officials on the products and services they were planning to purchase to respond to the crisis. PPE was a major need, but devices and professional development also quickly came into focus.

2 — Wanted: Curriculum Providers Who Can Help With Students’ COVID-19 Learning Loss

One of the clearest challenges to emerge in schools during the coronavirus is teachers’ recognition that students are slipping academically during remote learning — the so-called “COVID Slide.”

In this story, EdWeek Market Brief’s Michele Molnar looked at how curriculum providers have been attempting to help districts with learning loss. Those efforts include a new focus on putting forward engaging and culturally responsive material; creating more targeted, embedded assessments to gauge students’ losses in real time; doubling down on foundational academic areas where students are struggling; and integrating more targeted professional development into teachers’ routines.

3 — Which Ed. Companies Have Been Most Helpful to Districts During COVID-19?

EdWeek Market Brief surveyed more than 500 district leaders and 700 teachers about what companies or products have been most helpful to them during the chaos of the pandemic. It was an open-ended question, meaning administrators and educators could write in whatever answer they wanted.

The majority of those surveyed — 54 percent — chose one of three different companies. Hint: There was big premium placed on communication tools and platforms.

Many other providers, however, were also named, including companies offering student information systems and curriculum and assessment, among others.


4 — How Will COVID-19 Reshape the K-12 Market? We Asked 10 Education Executives

When school districts emerge from crisis mode, how will their demands for products and services have changed from what they were, pre-COVID?

EdWeek Market Brief’s Brian Bradley and Michele Molnar asked 10 executives at education companies for their predictions for how the pandemic will alter the market.

Among those who weighed in: Mike Tholfsen, principal product manager for Microsoft Education; Andy Myers, president and chief operating officer at Waterford; Coni Rechner, senior VP at Discovery Education; Barry Malkin, the CEO of Carnegie Learning; and Michael Flood, senior VP at Kajeet.

5 — Coronavirus Upending District Budgets, With Implications for K-12 Companies

EdWeek Market Brief took a deep dive into how school district budgets are being altered by COVID, and by the future uncertainty of state funding and lost tax revenue.

Much of that impact has yet to be determined — economic downturns typically take a long time to wind their way through to K-12 districts, because of school systems’ reliance on tax streams that may not feel the full brunt of a recession immediately.

Our surveys have found that many more district officials now believe their spending levels will rise, compared with the early days of the pandemic. But that’s partly because those K-12 officials believe they’ll be forced to spend more, as state mandates kick in and COVID-related costs continue, as David Saleh Rauf reported.


6 — 4 Big Shifts the Coronavirus Is Bringing to the Assessment Industry

The pandemic had an immediate impact on COVID by throwing off the schedule for testing during the spring. And the disruptions have continued since then.

Brian Bradley breaks down how assessment companies are being forced to pivot, from focusing on non-assessment lines of business, to accepting the slowing of RFPs from districts, to navigating new demands for test integrity and security.

7 — Education Companies Are Offering Free Resources Amid the Coronavirus. How Do They Shift to Paid?

A strong majority of education companies say they’ve offered free or discounted versions of what are normally paid products during the coronavirus, an EdWeek Market Brief survey of 1,700 business officials this year found.

But then comes the hard part: How do companies steer school districts back to paying for products, so that businesses are generating revenue that will sustain them? Michelle Davis spoke with education companies about their thinking, and how they’re attempting to guide district officials along the path to paid.

8 — New Spending on PD, Online Curriculum Likely in the Fall, Survey Reveals

EdWeek Market Brief has published several stories looking at districts’ spending priorities, and how they’ve changed over the course of the crisis. Look for another story on this in January.

But so far, several big needs have remained pretty consistent. Districts have put a major emphasis on PD, as teachers have struggled with remote learning, and now with the transition back to hybrid or in-person models. Online curriculum has been a huge priority, and so has the uptake of resources focused on social-emotional learning. (Also see our recent special report, breaking down districts’ biggest SEL needs.)

9 — Districts Are Reaching Out to Companies During COVID-19. Here’s What They Want

During the initial upheaval of COVID, many district officials warned vendors that they didn’t want to be inundated with sales pitches, because they were focused on the essential work of reopening and trying to establish normalcy amid chaos.

But at the same time, our research offered a more nuanced picture of district demands of vendors.

EdWeek Market Brief’s surveys of district officials, even from the relatively early days of the pandemic, found that many K-12 leaders were proactively reaching out to companies for help. This story was based on a survey that asked district officials about their outreach to vendors — and what they needed to hear from them to form a long-term relationship.

10 — Key Lessons From the Homeschool Market That Matter Now More Than Ever 

As the pandemic took hold and schools were rapidly forced to switch to online lessons, it quickly became clear that many parents were being thrust into new, uncomfortable roles in guiding their children’s studies, and trying to keep them on track.

This new parental responsibility meant that education companies that previously had to think mostly about delivering products that work for teachers and students now had to gauge how they could make them useful and understandable to parents, too. Our story looked at how companies have attempted to adjust their products and outreach to accommodate parents, in some cases drawing on lessons from the homeschool market.

Most Popular Webinars

Many of the most popular EdWeek Market Brief webinars were those that sought to help education companies quickly gauge districts’ evolving needs during the pandemic, then pivot to meet them.

1 — How Is the Crisis Reshaping School District Purchasing Priorities?

Drawing from EdWeek Market Brief reporting, analysis, and survey data, this webinar looked at how school systems were making decisions about curriculum, assessment, PD, data analysis, and other products as they turned full-scale into distance learning.


2 — How Can Education Businesses Pivot to Meet Districts’ Demands?

We took a deep dive into the new expectations that school officials have been putting on vendors during COVID. We were joined by Orange County (Fla.) associate superintendent Rob Bixler and BrainPOP CEO Scott Kirkpatrick.

3 — How Can Companies Engage Parents, and Prepare for What’s Ahead?

This webinar focused heavily on the new challenges districts, and vendors, have faced in engaging families in students’ learning during COVID. Our guests included Shauana Hughes-Sims, the senior administrator for parent and family engagement for the Orange County (Fla.) Schools, and Pete Just, the chief technology officer of the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, in Indiana.

4 — What Are Districts’ Most Urgent Professional Development Needs During COVID-19?

In this webinar, we presented the results of EdWeek Market Brief research on district administrators’ and teachers’ biggest PD needs during the pandemic, and how they want that training and support delivered.

We were joined by Sarah Almy, the executive director of teacher and leader learning in the Denver public schools; Eric Hibbs, the superintendent of the Marlboro Township (N.J.) schools; and Michelle Bowman, the vice president of networks and content design for Learning Forward.

5 — What Do Districts Need From Social-Emotional Learning Products and Programs During COVID-19?

In this webinar, we detailed the results of an EdWeek Market Brief nationally representative survey of district leaders and school principals on their biggest SEL needs and what they want from companies’ products focused on students’ well-being and non-academic growth.

Our guests were Juany Valdespino-Gaytán, the executive director for engagement services at Dallas Independent School District, and Kathy Krupa, vice president of partnerships for SEL provider Move This World.

To sum it up, school districts, and the companies that serve them, endured a lot over the past year. Here’s hoping for a safer and more stable 2021, one that leaves room for school improvement, students’ academic and holistic growth, and innovation.

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With In-Person Conferences on Hold, Here’s How Education Companies Are Adjusting

with in person conferences on hold heres how education companies are adjusting
MB Market Trends Dec 17

With the cancellation of sprawling, in-person conferences because of the coronavirus, vendors are turning to fast-paced, interactive virtual events that allow for engaging discussions.

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A Window Into an Early Education Company’s Plans for Growth

a window into an early education companys plans for growth
MB Analysts View Dec 17

Parents in the preschool market are becoming more “self-directed and intentional” in seeking out services, says Roderick Morris, the president of Lovevery.

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How Three Different Education Companies Have Pivoted During COVID

how three different education companies have pivoted during covid
MB Market Trends Dec 3

EdWeek Market looks at how three education businesses made pivots in response to fast-evolving district needs during the coronavirus.

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