While school districts around the country are beginning to plan for large budget cuts because of the massive reductions in state and local tax revenues stemming from the pandemic crisis, the leaders of California’s Assembly and Senate announced last week that they have agreed on a state budget that would rescind the $8 billion in cuts to K-12 education proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom. They based this action on the assumption that Congress would soon pass, and President Donald Trump would sign, aid for states that would include $14 billion for California.
Other state leaders have informed school districts that absent substantial federal stimulus aid they should expect cuts ranging from 5-10% (Massachusetts) to 20% (New York).Estimates of the amount of federal aid needed to avert cuts in education spending nationwide for the next school year range from $175 billion (Ed Trust) to $230 billion (Learning Policy Institute) to $250 billion (National Education Association). So far, federal aid to school districts under the CARES act has amounted to $13.5 billion. In the wake of the 2008 Great Recession, Congress provided $100 billion in stimulus aid for school districts.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a new stimulus bill that would provide $58 billion directly for school districts, and a total of $1 billion for state and local governments, a substantial portion of which would also be used to avoid large school funding cuts. A bi-partisan Senate stimulus bill sponsored by Senators Cassidy (R-La) and Menendez (D- N.J) would provide $500 billion for state and local governments, but its passage at that funding level is far from certain.