Federal & State Funding for K-12 Education for the Next Academic Year
After two years of record-breaking hikes in K-12 funding, federal and state education budget increases are beginning to moderate. Now, as schools begin the next academic year across the country, education providers are anxious to see how school district spending may be affected.
While budget increases are not as robust as fiscal years 2022 and 2023, many states – but not all – recently increased education budgets for fiscal year 2024. That’s not all. Most school districts still have billions of dollars of federal pandemic relief funds to spend. Let’s look at the numbers.
Federal Education Funding
Three major factors come into play when evaluating federal funding in FY 2024.
The first factor is ESSER spending. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress approved the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund totaling $189.4 billion. The funds can be spent on a wide variety of resources to support school reopenings, learning recovery, technology, curriculum, and more. As of June 30, 57.7% of all ESSER funds had been spent. More than $80 billion is still available. But, the clock is ticking. Sept. 30, 2024 is the deadline for states and districts to obligate the funds.
The second factor is the U.S. Department of Education’s annual funding allocations. This funding will be lower than the past several years when the Biden Administration approved historically high increases for Title I and many other K-12 programs. That’s not the case this year. Funding for federal education programs in fiscal year 2024 will largely be flat or, in some cases, reduced because of the new “spending caps” that were negotiated between the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House in the spring.
The third factor is the unknown. Spending proposals for the federal fiscal year 2024 are far from final and will be negotiated this fall in a highly partisan Congress.
Nearly all the states approved fiscal year 2024 budgets by the start of their fiscal years on July 1. Most of these budgets have surpluses and in many cases, increases for K-12 funding. But, increases are smaller than those of 2022 and 2023 when some states boosted K-12 budgets by 10% or more. For example, this year:
· Pennsylvania legislators approved a 7.8% increase for K-12 education.
· Michigan lawmakers passed a 5% increase for school foundation aid.
· Illinois lawmakers passed a 4.4% increase.
· Florida raised K-12 funding by 8.9%.
Also, legislatures in the two highest enrollment U.S. states did not pass significant increases in K-12 funding:
· The Texas FY 2024 budget has a small increase of 1.2%.
· California reduced its general education budget by nearly 2% due to slowing tax collections.
In addition to funding measures, various states this spring year passed new legislation supporting science of reading, early childhood, math reform, curriculum, education technology, and more.
Jay A. Diskey is a policy consultant to Westchester Education Services. He is the principal of Diskey Public Affairs, a Washington DC consultancy specializing in education policy, curriculum reform, publishing, and technology. He is the former chair of the International Publishers Association’s education committee and for many years he led the Association of American Publishers’ education division. Earlier, he was a member of the senior staff of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce. In the early 1990s, he served as a special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Education.
Register for our next webinar on August 30, 2023, “K-12 Education Legislation and Funding Update,” featuring Jay Diskey. Earlier in August, Jay wrote about Science of Reading legislation that has been passed in approximately 40 states.