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.
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
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…
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.
- 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.
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.
American Association of State Colleges & Universities (ASSCU)
Association of nearly 420 institutional members committed to underserved students, economic progress and cultural development.
Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, The
Started in 1970, a classification of colleges and universities derived from empirical data to support research and policy analysis.
Assists students to prepare for college through programs in college readiness; including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program.
Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
Advocate for academic accreditation, CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting institutions and recognizes 60 accrediting organizations.
Harvard Graduate School of Education - Websites for Education
Gutman Library’s “Websites for Educators” is a selective list of websites that support the research and practice of educators.
Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)
Develops innovative policy- and practice-oriented research to guide policymakers and education leaders in developing informed public policy decisions.
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
A system of annual surveys from more than 7,500 institutions, used to provides basic data for students and researchers in postsecondary education.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
Primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. NCES is located within the U.S. Dept. of Education.
School District Demographics System (SDDS)
Web-based resource operated by National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), enables access to school district demographic and related geographic data.
U.S. Department of Education (ED)
ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.