Thursday, September 28, 2023

Districts Proposed a Surge in Borrowing Last Year. Here's How ... - Education Week

Local taxpayers nationwide last year voted to borrow a dramatically larger sum of money than in recent years to fund school facilities upgrades, technology purchases, and other budget priorities.

Still, roughly one in four school district bond elections failed—a slightly larger percentage than in the preceding six years.

These data come from the SchoolBondFinder tool developed by the Amos Group, a firm that sells school finance data to companies looking to contract with districts.

The tool shows districts proposed 2,146 bond issues worth a total of $123 billion in 2022. Voters approved roughly 1,644, totaling $96 billion.

Districts asked voters to approve a lot more spending last year than in any previous year since the 2014 inception of SchoolBondFinder. The proposed bond issues were worth more than double the sum from 2021. The $96 billion that voters approved was nearly 90 percent more than the $51 billion voters approved in 2021. Voters OK’d $62 billion in borrowing in 2020, and $48 billion in 2019.

The number of proposed bond issues was also higher in 2022 than in each of the previous three years.

Several factors contributed to the burst in proposed spending, said Rachel Wisnefski, the Amos Group’s chief revenue officer. Bonds tend to be more common on ballots in even years, when higher-profile elections are also taking place. Districts are also looking ahead to a future without federal COVID relief funds that run out next year, which means they’ll have to tap into...

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