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July 15 -- The Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) invite comment to OMB by August 15, 2022 regarding the Annual Survey of School System Finances for FY2022.

The U. S. Census Bureau plans to continue the current Office of Management and Budget clearance for the Annual Survey of School System Finances with revisions. The Annual Survey of School System Finances is the only comprehensive source of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public elementary-secondary school system finance data collected on a nationwide scale using uniform definitions, concepts, and procedures. The collection covers the revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets of all public elementary-secondary school systems. This data collection has been cosponsored by and coordinated with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The NCES uses this collection to satisfy its need for school finance data.

Fiscal data provided by respondents aid data users in measuring the effectiveness of resource allocation. The products of this data collection make it possible for data users to search a single database to obtain information on such things as per pupil expenditures and the percent of state, local, and federal funding for each school system. Elementary-secondary education related spending is the single largest financial activity of state and local governments. Education finance statistics provided by the Census Bureau allow for analyses of how public elementary-secondary school systems receive their funding and how they are spending their funds.

The Annual Survey of School System Finances was revised for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 collection to include 12 new data items in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Six revenue data items and six expenditure items were added to the survey to collect financial information from school systems concerning the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The survey was then revised again for the FY 2021 collection in response to new legislation passed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Four new revenue items were added to the survey to collect financial data based on these two new legislative acts and two obsolete revenue items added in FY 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were removed from the survey. Two new expenditure items were also added to expand the scope of financial data collected concerning COVID-19 federal assistance funds.

The future revisions, which will be incorporated in the FY 2022 collection scheduled for mailing in January 2023, propose to expand the collection of expenditure data for COVID-19 federal assistance funds. The CARES Act established several relief funds that would be made available to school systems, including the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, and the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). Subsequent legislation such as the CRRSA and the ARP further funded these sources and established additional funds made available to school systems, including the ARP Act Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. In response to these various funds being established and utilized by school systems and a demand for information on how public school systems are expending these funds, 21 new data items are proposed to be added to the survey to collect data on expenditures from these funding sources. Three data items collecting data for current expenditures, instructional expenditures, and capital outlay expenditures are proposed for seven different sources of funds for a total of 21 new data items.

The fiscal year (FY) 2020 universe consisted of approximately 14,783 governmental school systems as counted in the most recent list of school systems in the Governments Master Address File and was distributed as follows:

Independent School Districts                        12,210
Dependent Educational Service Agencies (SEAs)         1,448
Dependent School Systems (not SEAs)                     1,125

In addition to the governmental school systems from the Governments Master Address File, the U.S. Census Bureau also collected finance data from approximately 5,200 non-governmental charter school systems for the FY 2020 collection for the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) using a list of local education agencies from NCES’ Local Education Agency Universe (School District) Survey. The full size of the combined universe is approximately 19,983 school systems.   

In addition to the revisions being proposed for the Annual Survey of School System Finances, NCES will be proposing that identical data items be added to the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) (OMB No. 1850-0067) as was done in FY 2020 and FY 2021. The NPEFS is a state-level financial survey conducted by NCES for public school systems in the United States and is collected concurrently with the Annual Survey of School System Finances by the U.S. Census Bureau. The NPEFS utilizes many of the same data items and terminology as the Annual Survey of School System Finances and is completed by many of the same state coordinators in the various state education agencies (SEAs).
 
Annual Survey of School System Finances webpage: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/school-finances.html
FY2022 Annual Survey of School System Finances submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202207-0607-001 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-15137  

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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