In the wake of COVID-19, school systems face a daunting set of challenges as they plan for the 2020-2021 school year — including meeting students’ increased academic and social-emotional needs, implementing physical distancing requirements, and grappling with significant revenue loss. School systems must prepare for the 2020-2021 school year with an integrated decision-making process that responds to these new challenges in an aligned way. As part of closing out the current fiscal year, school systems should critically evaluate both the impact of COVID-19 on their net fiscal position and any remaining levers to maximize savings this year. Accurate and updated projects are crucial for informing difficult decisions about spending reductions next year, and given the magnitude of forecasted revenue loses, every dollar that school systems can save now is a dollar less that will need to be cut later.
In this ERS Briefing, we explore the key decisions districts faced during their COVID-19 response and how subsequent areas of spending and saving impacted systems’ end-of-year financial position. We share these findings to shed light on the magnitude of what can be expected from school systems’ savings (and why), to help district leaders identify remaining options for increasing savings during the current fiscal year, and to inform state appropriations and policy for FY21.