We developed this district cost calculator to help district finance teams assess the biggest areas of new investments and incremental spending they should be prepared for in SY20-21. This includes both new operational costs (in health and safety, technology, nutrition, transportation, and substitutes) and investments in student/teacher support that may be critical enabling components of districts’ reopening plans (e.g. teacher planning and PD, academic recovery, social-emotional learning, and virtual instruction).
Note that this tool is intended to help assess high-level costs, not create line-item budgets. In that regard, it shows only incremental costs – not reallocations or other savings. The magnitude of new costs identified in the tool will vary significantly depending on a district’s reopening plan and the pre-existing resources available. For example, districts reopening with more students in-person could face large increases in transportation cost, whereas districts reopening primarily remotely may incur greater costs in technology and teacher PD. As another example, districts that already have greater investments in professional learning and teacher planning/collaboration may incur fewer new costs in those areas because they will be better able to meet their new SY20-21 needs with existing resources.
The “Sample Data” calculator is pre-populated with sample cost estimates to illustrate how the tool works. These values are illustrative only; districts should input their own data and assumptions to identify key insights for their context.
Throughout the calculator, we provide suggestions of reallocation opportunities to fund incremental spending. However, given the magnitude of new spending and investments that are needed to safely reopen schools in SY20-21, districts may find that reallocation opportunities are insufficient and that additional funding (e.g. state/federal aid or philanthropic support) is needed to fully enable the transition to new school models that prioritize both the health and safety of the community and the delivery of high-quality, equitable instruction and support to a diverse student population.
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