Public school officials around the country are dealing with the close out of federal stimulus monies and state budget cuts as they run up against a July 1 deadline for the preparation of their fiscal year budgets.
In all but four states, the fiscal year begins on July 1, which means that state lawmakers are supposed to have their budgets finalized by then. But many local governments and school districts — which rely on state funding — also use July 1 as the start date for their budget year. This makes timing difficult: How do you write your local budget when you don’t know how much money to expect from the state?
School budgets have usually been held harmless from cuts but in the tough fiscal times, states are not keeping public school funding away from chopping block. This has posed a challenge to school officials because they do not know what to anticipate for their own budget preparations.
Recently in states such as California, Illinois and New York, lawmakers haven’t been able to agree on a budget until after the start of the new fiscal year, prolonging the uncertainty.
“The main way of solving that problem is not to change the fiscal year but for the state governments to enact their budgets on time,” says Roy Meyers, professor of political science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
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