School Budgets Were Under Strain Before the Pandemic, But Now it May Put Lives at Risk
They were already under strain before but could now put lives at risk, especially in poorer communities.
For struggling school districts, budgets were already an issue in paying teachers more, maintaining facilities, and offering more robust learning programs. As NPR reported: "schools receive nearly half of their funding from state coffers. But with businesses shuttered in response to the pandemic and the unemployment rate already nearing 15% — well above its 10% peak during the Great Recession — state income and sales tax revenues are crashing." State governments, unlike the federal government, actually have to balance their budgets - forcing many to call for cuts everywhere including schools. As a result of the pandemic and needing to take measures to not have a second wave of infections, the additional costs of personal protective equipment, more thorough cleaning, partitions for desks, blended schedules, online learning software subscriptions, and technology for students - those budgets are going to be under even more strain unless some of those costs are avoided by keeping students home to learn remotely full-time until the risk is lower. For school districts with tight budgets, safety measures like extra cleaning and protective equipment cannot be compromised, which means other line items like salary increases, building improvements, and arts programs may have to be cut. Austin Beutner, the superintendent of the country's second biggest school district in Los Angeles, said: "Cuts to funding at schools will forever impact the lives of children." The harm children face from these cuts, Beutner warned, "is just as real a threat to them as is the coronavirus." The governor of California has just called for emergency cuts to the school budget.