New Special Report: What the Loss of Stimulus Funding Will Mean for the K-12 Market

Managing Editor
What the Loss of Stimulus Money Will Mean for the K-12 Market, EdWeek Market Brief

First came a historic amount of money. Now comes a series of daunting questions.

School districts across the U.S. have been allocated an estimated $190 billion in federal funding over the past three years as part of a broad effort to help school districts recover from the financial, health, and academic setbacks brought on by the pandemic.

That money has supported an astonishing range of programs in the nation’s schools, including improvements to HVAC systems, Chromebook purchases, social-emotional learning, summer programs, and tutoring. But soon, school districts must adjust to a new reality: that the last of the money will need to be committed by the end of September 2024.

EdWeek Market Brief’s new special report, The End of K-12 Stimulus Funding: What Comes Next, looks at how school districts will make critically important decisions about remaining stimulus aid over the next year. But the report also goes well beyond that, exploring which programs are most likely to be cut when the money runs out, what alternate sources of funding districts will turn to, who in K-12 systems will make decisions about stimulus and post-stimulus policy, and how education companies are attempting to make their case to districts to keep their products off the chopping block.

The report is based primarily on a series of nationally representative surveys of K-12 decision-makers conducted by the EdWeek Research Center, as well as on analyses and insights provided by EdWeek Market Brief’s editorial team.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • School systems have ploughed through a significant amount of their stimulus aid already. About 8 in 10 say they have gone through at least three-quarters of that money. Only a small minority say the bulk of their funding is unspent.
  • K-12 officials foresee major academic consequences when federal stimulus aid runs out. Two-thirds of those surveyed say the loss of that money will have a negative impact on learning over the next two years.
  • Many of the same programs that have benefited from the heaviest investments of stimulus aid — particularly in academic recovery and supports for student well-being — are also those that school district officials are now preparing to scale back, the survey research finds.
  • When federal emergency aid runs out, districts expect to rely most heavily on their general funds to support programs they’ve invested in over the past few years — a reminder of the tradeoffs and tough decisions districts will face on which products/services to keep.
  • Many K-12 businesses are planning proactive strategies to avoid being adversely affected by the loss of federal aid. More than a third of K-12 businesses surveyed by EdWeek Market Brief have planned or conducted marketing campaigns to tout their products’ value, and another third have helped districts identify alternate sources of aid.
  • The report also explores the standards school districts will use to evaluate whether to keep using stimulus-funded products and services. District and school leaders are choosing a mix of hard and soft metrics, which will include some combination of test results, usage data, and anecdotal feedback that superintendents, chief academic officers, chief technology officers, and others get from teachers and students.

In addition to the survey-based research, the report offers answers to key factual questions on the deadlines school districts face for committing and spending their share of stimulus funds, and what’s known about new flexibility that school systems have been granted by federal officials.

Go here for more information on accessing EdWeek Market Brief’s report. It’s an essential primer on how districts are making use of the historic level of stimulus aid, and how they’re preparing for life without it.

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