There was an interesting piece in Stateline’s ‘Education Beat’ which looked at how some states are looking to, if not increase spending to schools, to at least maintain it. It’s an interesting challenge – states are under enormous pressure to cut spending in light of the slow paced economy recovery, reduced federal spending, and the impact on state budgets.
Yet there are pockets of resistance to cut K-12 education spending – from the President’s statement that education is critical to America “”winning the future” to policymakers in states such as California and Connecticut which will not cut K-12 school spending (though cuts are planned for higher education); and states such as Illinois and Iowa, which are proposing to increase K-12 education funding from 3.2 percent and 2 percent respectively.
It’s not all rosy. Consider Illinois which is at the center of a debate following a proposed consolidation of its 868 school districts into 300, and the potential closure of 45 education offices. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says this would save an estimated $14 million in the next year. Though with strong local opposition, time will tell if these cuts will happen – the state has previously abandoned both proposed education consolidations and regional office closures.
Yet cuts need to be made – even in the face of popularity. Idaho is a dramatic example, with hundreds protesting in the state capital last week. The state has already made school cuts to the tune of $200 million – with the knock-on effect of teaching initiatives being canned, salaries being frozen and a number of local district schools going to a four-day week. And $200 million is not enough – the state needs to another $35 million worth of cuts. It’s not alone – Texas is planning to cut $4.8 billion from school over the next two years – in total 35 states have made cuts in K-12 funding and 43 states have cut higher education funding.
With high unemployment, oil prices being driven up, and stimulus money drying up, it’s a tough call for education policymakers, decision makers and budget holders – both at K-12 and higher education. How do you invest in America’s future when you have less to invest?
But there are ways that the budgets can be balanced. One area that we think is an obvious start is to save on asset spend and protect existing investments through reuse. At The Refinishing Touch we complete projects where budget spend is cut by up to 80 percent through practical and sustainable refinishing projects – a figure we see not only in the education sector but in the government and hospitality markets as well. Any institution that has a sizeable spend on furniture can not only limit unnecessary landfill, they can limit budget spend.
Refinishing and reuse may not be a complicated lesson, but it’s a simple action that shows strong results.