School board candidates talk referendum and achievement gaps – Austin Daily Herald

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a Q&A featuring Austin School Board candidates on issues facing the school district.

This week are Al Eckmann, Carolyn Dube and Cece Kroc.

1. The school board has given the green light for putting an operating levy referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot. How do you sell the need for the referendum to the public?

Al Eckmann: For the past few years Austin Public Schools has been living on a budget that had a small growth in revenue because of an increasing student enrollment. Currently we have a decreasing number of total students served by approximately 220. The same forecast is predicted for future years.

We are currently last in the Big Nine Conference of operating referendum per student with $800 to a high at Winona of $3,594. And our Unassigned Fund Balance has also been dropping because of declining enrollment. Our

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Coronavirus school budget cuts are expected to harm student achievement

In April 2018, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made the argument that more money isn’t the way to improve public schools. A chart, which she shared on Twitter, showed how school spending had skyrocketed over the last 30 years while student test scores have barely budged. Lackluster academic achievement “is not something we’re going to spend our way out of,” DeVos tweeted.  

More than a dozen academic studies have rebutted the claim that money doesn’t matter in education but it’s more complicated to explain why the simple, easy-to-grasp DeVos logic can be misguided. I’m going to give it another try in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A few weeks ago, in July 2020, education finance experts explained to journalists how schools across the country are going to be hit with big funding cuts this year. With business down or downright closed, tax collections will soon dwindle. States have already announced

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