Key Coverage

District Savings Are Running Dry Amid COVID-19, Putting Some Schools in Dire Straits

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, districts have been bombarded with unexpected costs: iPads for remote learning, jugs of bleach to disinfect classrooms, Plexiglas for safety dividers, hazard pay for janitors, and PD for remote teaching.

But the public school system’s fiscal infrastructure is infamously rigid, making it almost impossible for administrators to pivot suddenly and spend large chunks of money on anything other than big-ticket items such as teachers, administrators, and curriculum.

So, in order to keep kids learning, staff employed, and school buildings open, chief financial officers in districts around the country have turned to one of the most unregulated and inequitable corners of school finance: their fund balance accounts, more commonly known as “rainy day” funds.