Public School Budgets

We offer an overview of public school budgets; where the money comes from, how it’s spent and what schools are doing to get more funding. Learn how schools are cutting budgets and how the cuts will impact your child. Delve into some of the creative ways school districts are trying to raise money and where the extra money is spent.
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Published April 13, 2012 |
Do Lotteries Really Benefit Public Schools?  The Answer is Hazy
With mega millions lotteries making national headlines, we analyze how much benefit these events really provide to public school systems.
With the Mega Millions craze sweeping the country in recent weeks, how have public schools benefited?  According to lottery advertising, one of the benefits of this form of gambling is generating funding for public schools.  While it sounds good on paper, how much benefit do lotteries really offer to public school systems? It turns out the answer to that question may be much more complex than it appears on the surface.

An Overview of Lotteries
 
According to the website for the Georgia Lottery system, lottery is a “game of chance in which players have an equal opportunity to win prizes.” The first American lottery was held in Jamestown in 1612, and it made up half the entire budget the early settlers needed to build their colony. Lotteries were used by President George Washington to support the Revolutionary War, and Thomas Jefferson used them to fund a variety of public projects.
 
Lotteries have traditionally been used to support public works projects like building and street construction, as well as education and environmental projects. Today’s lotteries utilize the latest technology to allow players the choice between instant tickets and online games, as well as the standard lottery drawing games. Prizes for lotteries have also become more extravagant, as evidenced with the recent Mega Millions game that has made headlines in states like Virginia, California and North Carolina.
 
Where does Lottery Money Go?
 
The proceeds from lotteries can go to a variety of venues, as determined by the state. Many states boast that lottery
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Published December 17, 2011 |
Florida Governor Calls for More Funding for State’s Public School System
Florida Governor Rick Scott has introduced a state budget for next year that pumps one billion more dollars into the public school system. We’ll look at his reasons for the increase and the responses to the proposal.
If Governor Rick Scott has his way, Florida schools will see a boost to their budget this year. That is good news to schools that have been pinching their pennies as budgets have dwindled in recent years, due to an increase in students and falling property values. However, the additional money won’t come without a cost, as Scott wants to move funds from the prison system and Medicaid program to offer more funding for the public school system.

Education to be Top Priority in Florida
 
According to a report at Tampa Bay Online, Scott is making a dramatic shift in policy by citing education as one of the top priorities for the state of Florida this year. Last year, the governor was criticized by Florida residents for slashing the education budget by $1.3 billion, which amounted to over $500 per student. The total cut was actually less than the governor had requested, decreasing from a 10-percent cut in his initial request to an actual eight-percent cut that was approved by the Florida legislature.
 
This year, Scott wants to boost the public school budget by $1 billion, bringing it closer to what it was prior to last year’s decreases. The change of heart by the governor may be attributed to a number of factors. First, in town meetings across the state, Scott heard time and time again how important education was to Florida residents.
 
“They [Floridians] want education to be a priority,” Scott explained to HT Politics. “I’m committed
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Published October 15, 2011 |
Count Day Becomes Major Event for Some School Districts
With budgets as tight as they have ever been, count day has become a huge event for some school districts. The more students that attend count day, the more funding the school receives.
With the first day of school still a clear memory and fall holidays right around the corner, the focus of many school districts is on a single obscure event that typically falls during the months of September or October. Count day is the one day of the school year that means everything to schools in terms of the amount of funding they receive. For every student that can be accounted for on this special day, funds are allotted for that school. During a time when school budgets are stretched well past their comfort levels, it is no wonder that count day is becoming bigger than any other day of the year for some school districts.

Why Count Day?
 
According the Michigan state government website, count day is the day when all the public schools in the state total up all of the students attending their schools. The event also occurs in other states, like Colorado and Indiana. On this day, the number of students tallied adds up to direct funding for the school. For example, every student counted on count day in Colorado brings an additional $6,400 into the school in which he is enrolled, according to data in the Denver Post. In the Detroit Public School system, every student accounted for on count day means more than $7,000 for the school.
 
Count days typically take place in both the fall and winter school terms. However, in Michigan, the fall count day makes up 90 percent of
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Published October 09, 2011 |
Fuel Your School Ignites Second Year in Utah
Fuel Your School is a Utah and California program introduced by Chevron that provides additional funding for local public schools every time someone fills up his tank. Learn about which schools benefit from the program and how the funding is being used.
Schools across the country continue to try to do more with less, and budgets are squeezed and classroom sizes begin to bulge. Funding from any source is a welcome relief, and in Utah and California, that help comes from an unlikely source – the gas pump. The Fuel Your School program launched by Chevron in both Utah and California was a big success last year, and this year, the company and the schools involved with the program hope to see the same positive results.

What is Fuel Your School?
 
Fuel Your School is a program introduced to California and Utah communities by Chevron and DonorsChoose.org. This large company and non-profit organization are teaming up to provide teachers with much needed supplies for the classroom. The focus of the funding is on STEM learning, so additional money typically goes to help science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related projects. However, other types of projects are also eligible for funding from this program.
 
The premise of the program is relatively easy – to raise money for your school, simply fill your gas tank at one of the participating Chevron stations during the month of October. For every eight gallons of gas you purchase, Chevron donates $1 to the school. Last year, the initial launch of Fuel Your School in California raised more than $850,000 for the schools in the California communities, according to the Sacramento Bee.
 
Helping Schools in California and Utah
 
According to the Fuel Your School website, Chevron introduced
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Published September 19, 2011 |
Public Schools Slated to get Modernization Money if Obama’s Plan Passes
President Obama’s recent address included infrastructure funding for renovating schools. We’ll look at the plan overall and some of the states that would benefit from the plan.
People in America need jobs. Students need modernized school buildings that promote learning. President Obama put the two together in his recent job package, asking Congress to approve billions of dollars for infrastructure projects – including modernizing and repairing schools across the country. However, asking for money and actually getting funding are two very different things in today’s polarized political climate that is overshadowed by grave concern over the current state of the country’s economy.

How School Modernization Could Help America
 
According to a report at Think Progress, school modernization is touted by the current administration as good for education and beneficial to the economy. Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief economist Jared Bernstein asserted that school modernization is a “smart way to get a lot of people who really need jobs back to work, fix a critical part of our institutional infrastructure, save energy costs, provide kids with a better, healthier learning environment, and do so in a way that everyone can see and feel good about each morning when they drop their kids off at school.”
 
There is data to support the idea that students learn better in updated facilities. Valerie Strauss in her column, “Answer Sheet,” provides studies that show this to be true:
 
Research over decades shows that the condition of school facilities affects student achievement. According to a 2011 report by the 21st Century School Fund, there are clear correlations between the quality of school facilities and student and teacher attendance, teacher retention and
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