School Business Affairs December 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | DECEMBER 2019 43 tools and resources GRGROUP/STOCK.ADOBE.COM Ideas, resources, and tips for school business officials Managing District Money, STEM Education Rankings Managing the District Money W ho is managing school dis- tricts’ money and what’s their greatest challenge? In August, Education Week Research Center surveyed a nationally rep- resentative sample of school principals and district-level administrators to find out. The more than 700 respondents represented all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as a wide range of district demographics. Here’s some of what they had to say: What are the top five areas most in need of funding in your district? (top five responses shown) 1. Teacher salaries (47%) 2. Building maintaining facilities (39%) 3. Counseling/social work (38%) 4. Social-emotional learning (34%) 5. Special education (32%) Which of these is a major funding chal- lenge in your district? • Persuading the public/elected officials to sufficiently fund our schools (64%) • Timing and predictability of funding (46%) • Understanding how the state’s funding formula works (31%) • Training, expertise, and technical support for district and school staff (26%) • Other (13%) • Our district does not face any major funding challenges (4%) If your district had to make budget cuts today, what are the top five areas you’d most likely propose cutting? (top five responses shown) 1. Hiring more administrators (42%) 2. Savings/rainy day funds (38%) 3. Extracurriculars (36%) 4. Marketing/publicizing our strengths to the public (33%) 5. Hiring more teachers (33%) When asked who is the biggest obstacle to making spending decisions that best address their students’ needs, 51% identified state legislators. Coming in second were the local superintendent of schools and central office staff, who were identified by 12% of respondents. For more data from Managing the Money , visit aging-the-money/index.html U.S. Rankings in STEM Competitions How well prepared is the United States to succeed in the technology age, when coun- tries must nurture people who can innovate? One metric is to compare U.S. students’ per- formances to their peers’ around the world in STEM fields. The Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) released the results of its first CEE Index of Excellence in STEM Education, which compiles the scores and rankings of students from around the world who par- ticipated in five STEM-related international Olympiad academic competitions. Based on combined outcomes of the Olympiads in biology, chemistry, phys- ics, math, and informatics, the CEE Index shows: • The U.S. remains competitive and has ranked in second and third place in the last two years. • China has dominated in each STEM com- petition for the past 30 years. • The performance of European students has declined as Asian countries have risen to dominate the Olympiads over the past few decades. The focus on STEM education in the United States and increased competition in the global marketplace likely contribute to the achievement of the U.S. students. Learn more at