Fiscal Year Spend Down: 3 Ways to Use It Before You Lose It
As the clock ticks down on state education budgets, teachers and administrators are often encouraged to use funds before they disappear. While no two states have quite the same timeline for this end-of-year spend, a large spike generally occurs in the spring months. With the list of unique student needs only growing and a “use it or lose it” budget philosophy, below are three ideas to consider before those remaining dollars dry up.
1. Professional Development
Teachers know better than anyone that learning never ends—refining their practice is an ongoing process. As the school year winds down, it’s a perfect time to provide teachers with an opportunity to step out of their routine for professional development. Research shows that an inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement, so funding the training and support of both new and experienced educators is vital.
Even if your budget doesn’t cover national professional development conferences, there are still plenty of ways to provide networking and learning for your educators during this time of year. An online course or webinar purchase is an easy way to invest funds in professional development for your staff and allows everyone to complete the training on their own time, rather than adding additional meetings to an already busy end-of- year schedule.
The NEA’s guide for Great Teaching & Learning is a great resource for professional development opportunities.
2. Invest in Learning Technology
The effective use of digital learning tools in classrooms can increase student engagement, help teachers improve their lesson plans, and facilitate personalized learning. It also helps students build essential 21st-century skills. If your fiscal year budget allows it, consider one of Edmentum’s high-quality virtual learning programs:
The value of developing proficient readers in the formative years cannot be understated. Edmentum’s dynamic 2-in-1 program, Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress, supports pre-K through 6th grade students on their reading journeys using a short placement test and individualized learning paths made up of fun, interactive lessons and activities. Motivational rewards and real-time reporting make Reading Eggs the perfect complement to your teacher-directed guided reading time, and it can be an ideal summer or after-school supplement that students will want to use.
The act of retrieving information previously learned to answer a question (also known as practice testing) has proven to be one of the most effective learning techniques. Study Island, Edmentum’s kindergarten through 12th grade practice and classroom assessment program offers engaging and flexible practice options across math, ELA, science, and social studies. The program has more than 600,000 unique items, including 10,000 technology-enhanced items to ensure that you have a robust pool of standards-aligned questions written specifically for your state, grade level, and desired subject. You can also identify opportunity areas so student focus their time on those most-needed skills, as well as pull individual reports to set and track customized learning goals.
3. Think summer school
States and districts around the country have seen an influx of millions of dollars as part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal of using much of it to help mitigate learning loss brought on by the disruption in classroom learning. Many states and districts plan to use that money to invest more deeply in summer school services, and using year-end funds to supplement ESSER funds may extend your summer learning opportunities even further.
If your plan is to use these funds to support summer sessions, reference our Summer Planning & Success Toolkit, which is full of helpful resources, blogs, and worksheets aligned to your specific summer goals.
If you need more information about federal funding and allowable uses, Edmentum’s Federal Funding Crosswalk is designed to help state and local education agencies align their priorities to federal funding streams.