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Education Resources, Data, and Analysis…

MuniNet’s Education & Schools page offers your gateway to a database of school metrics from the National Center for Education Statistics, and much more. You can find articles from MuniNet’s own researchers, and financial benchmarks and trends relevant to investors and policy makers, Futhermore, one of MuniNet Guide’s core missions is to direct researchers and citizens to the best websites, datasets, and organizations in areas that make cities and states stronger. We review the best research, analysis, and initiatives from thought leaders and action leaders, and cover their efforts. Please review our ‘Top Picks’ section below, our hand-picked list of websites and organizations in the area of state and local education practice and policy.


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Click on any state on the map above to be taken to an alphabetical list of the public primary, middle, and secondary schools in that state. Or, utilize the ‘Refine Search’ drop-down menu to further narrow your search at the outset. Selecting a state makes the cities available, and narrowing by school type is optional. Each school profile, like the example here of Abe Lincoln Elementary School in Cicero, IL, includes geographic and contact information, as well as enrollment and teacher demographics.


Fiscal Trends of Our Education System

MuniNet provides charts covering some key fiscal metrics of state and local education systems. Data provided by public sources and Merritt Research Services. Click on any chart to expand.


Growth in Public Higher Education Debt Outstanding Outpaces All Other Major Municipal Bond Sectors

municipal bond credit sectors 10 year debt trend

Public Higher Education Debt Outstanding Has Grown by Over 80% Since 2007 Leading All Other Major Municipal Bond Credit Sectors

by Richard A. Ciccarone

Municipal Bond Credit Sectors — Ten Year Outstanding Debt Trend

Based on municipal bond credit sector medians,  Public Higher Education and Community Colleges registered the biggest increases in long term debt outstanding than any other credit sectors that borrow in the municipal bond market during the period 2007- 2017.  Universities and colleges saw a ten year growth of 85.2%,  the most of all major municipal bond sectors tracked by Merritt Research Services LLC,  an independent municipal data and research company that tracks financial conditions on over 10,000 municipal bond borrowers.  Long term debt attributed to Community colleges followed close behind with an 80.7% growth rate.   The ten year time span used in the comparison included the Great Recession as well as the subsequent recovery years.

Higher education institutions, in general, have incurred higher debt loads for capital improvement programs over the past two decades, triggered by a “keeping up with Jones'” mentality that swept the  board rooms of college administrations.    The wave of more expansive and luxurious campus facilities at competing colleges and universities was motivated in part on the grounds that the shrinking pool of eligible college age potential students required them to provide state of the art facilities.   Private higher education institutions, many of which started their capital programs earlier than public institutions,   ranked fifth in their median debt expansion with a smaller but still robust 39.6% growth rate.

In the case of community colleges, expansion programs heated up as public officials  responded to the demand for lower cost institutions available for families seeking a lower cost option to either reduce the cost leading to a four year degree or a path providing more specific job preparation and training…

For Full Article, Click Here

Private Higher Education: Median $ Unrestricted Resources to Debt, 2009-2016

The Unrestricted Resources to Debt ratio measures the coverage of debt that is covered by financial reserves that are expendable by universities. This is at heart a measure of liquidity; how prepared is a given institution for financial emergencies or revenue volatility, be it sudden, dramatic changes in enrollment, cuts in state funding or private grants, or other unforeseen circumstances.

MuniNet Chart - Education 2

  • BOTTOM LINE:
    • Private Higher Education – Median Unrestricted Resources represent 62% of Total Debt.  Slightly Down in 2016 from Past two years.
    • 18.7%  of all Private Higher Ed Universities had less than 10% Unrestricted Resources to Debt.

Featured Chart:   Primary & Secondary School Districts —  Financial Condition Trend

School District Fund Balance to Expenditures Naational Annual Medians

Source: Merritt Research Services, LLC Derived from Audited Comprehensive Financial Reports.

Since the great recession, the median school district fund balance as a % of expenditures has fully recovered. 2017 results maintain this trend.  The chart of the national median for school districts of general fund balance as a percentage of expenditures remains at 19% percent. The fund balance as percentage of expenditures reflects the level of reserves a government has to absorb revenue declines or unexpected expenses.

The level of adequate reserves depends in part upon the characteristics of a state or local government. For example city or town that encounters frequent, somewhat predictable flooding may want to carry a higher fund balance. Conversely, larger governments, like states, large cities, and the nation’s largest school districts, can in many cases carry lower balances as a percentage of expenditures, because of the diverse options available to them to raise revenues in emergencies, as well as their increased capacity to plan for contingencies in other ways.

The Government Finance Officer’s Association recommends a fund balance, as a rule, of at least two months of regular general fund operating revenues. The Civic Federation endorses the GFOA recommendation, but also cautions against holding excess reserves. Excess reserves could be put to better use to make new investments in infrastructure or services, to pay off existing debt, or to put into investments with the possibility of earning returns, such as pension funds or other long-term investments.


You can also access additional School and Education resources, including higher education institutions, by visiting our NFMA Gateway.

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The following featured links are approved by MuniNet as exceptional online resources offering up-to-date information on topics that matter