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A regular update from the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown’s McCourt School. 
By Chad Aldeman
Last week at ASBO’s annual conference, Marguerite and Jessica offered up six warnings for school districts where leaders are knee-deep in federal relief fund planning. 

Some shared that their districts were right now making some of these mistakes and are struggling to balance the complexities involved in navigating various financial interests. Our team heard from district CFOs worrying about fiscal cliffs when relief funds run out - and the disconnect with superintendents and school board members who, despite warnings, continue to make spending choices that will exacerbate that very fiscal cliff. The good news: there’s still time to change plans. 

Is your district at risk of making any of these mistakes?
Georgetown University’s Certificate in Education Finance can help. Our fall programming will include an emphasis on making the most of federal relief dollars. We’re offering a virtual option November 2-3 as well as a two-day in-person experience in New Orleans November 9-10. Registration for our fall cohort closes soon. Please share with your networks.

Will enrollments rebound quickly? Don’t count on it.

Early reports from California and Wisconsin suggest that public school enrollments have not rebounded this year, after falling 3% nationally last year.
Is this a temporary concern? It could be, if COVID-related fears abate and families decide to return to public schools. But a fall in immigration and a decline in birth rates suggest many districts will need to learn to live with permanently lower enrollments.
That matters for district finances because fewer students eventually means fewer dollars. States can delay the effects with "hold harmless" polices but eventually that means states are funding "phantom students." 
Some of the larger districts were already shrinking pre-pandemic, and are planning to use their federal relief funds to backfill budgets rather than downsize their operations accordingly. That would be "Mistake #2" above.
USED is seeking input on its proposed MoEquity reporting requirement:

SEAs would be required to publish by Dec 2021 both of the following:
a. School-by-school budget financials for 2021-22
b. School-by-school financials (we assume this is expenditures) for 2020-21

Our sense is that most states won't have these numbers to post on this timeline.
Got thoughts? USED wants your comments here by Nov. 4th. 
Trending from the Edunomics Lab
How can district leaders engage their communities on spending decisions? In Chalkbeat, Marguerite suggests using the “Would You Rather?” test to compare specific options of equal cost and get more useful feedback.
An update from NERD$: The National Education Resource Database on Schools recently uploaded more thoroughly cleaned and complete datafiles for all states (except CA, OH, and NH). If you have any questions or would like to know more about our publication schedule, please email And over on the Education Gadfly Show, things got a little NERD$Y.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with insights or suggestions:
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Edunomics Lab is a Georgetown University research center exploring and modeling complex education finance decisions to inform education policy and practice.
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