- According to the Gallup 2017 Survey of K-12 School District Superintendents, a majority of district leaders report that the greatest challenges facing their schools are budget shortfalls and assisting students whose achievement is impacted by socioeconomic conditions.
- Additionally, the data finds superintendents in urban or suburban districts are more likely to be engaged than those in their town or rural counterparts, and 66% across all types of districts are seeing fewer new teacher candidates.
- One bright spot: Gallup notes a 10% decline since 2013 in the portion of superintendents reporting that revamping curriculum is a challenge, from 60% to 50%.
The Gallup data highlights a litany of trends impacting how superintendents do their jobs, from budget concerns and teacher shortages to tech implementation. And while the bulk of those problems have no easy solutions, they tend to come back around to budget concerns.
Most states have cut school funding since the 2008 recession, and some still continue to do so, with cuts in at least 15 states having surpassed 10% as of the 2014 school year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, local government funding fell in at least 18 states, as well — and that's not even getting into federal funding. Several states have also faced challenges to the equity of their funding formulas in recent years.
Programs that can better serve students who lack resources due to their socioeconomic backgrounds, incentives that can attract prospective teachers to the field (and to a variety of districts), and rethinking curriculum approaches and implementing innovative tech tools all require additional funding. Making that case to lawmakers who continue to slash funding should be an imperative for administrators, and using data like what Gallup has gathered here to enlist parents and the broader community in doing so can only strengthen that case.