US School Districts Begin Layoffs Amid Inflation, COVID-Era Spending

School districts across the U.S. recently began laying off teachers amid high inflationary costs, budget deficits and COVID-era funding from the federal government running out. The move comes after the districts received windfalls in federal subsidies for three years.

Just the News pointed out that the federal COVID-era subsidies received funds through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grants provided by state education agencies. The grants, financed through the CARES Act and supplemental appropriation, expire on Sept. 30, 2024.

In one month, nearly 2,000 California public school teachers received layoff notices, marking a “massive increase” from past years, according to California Teachers Association president David Goldberg.

School districts across The Golden State, including Pasadena Unified School District and Anaheim Union High School District, have cut hundreds of jobs amid declining enrollment, budget shortfalls and the end of funding from ESSER.

The number of job losses in the education industry won’t be known until after California’s legislature passes a budget bill in June 2024, according to Just the News. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) projects a budget shortfall of $38 billion, while the state Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts $73 billion.

The layoffs aren’t just happening in California.

In Arkansas, which has been dealing with a teacher shortage for years, the Little Rock School District started laying off teachers in February 2024, citing reduced employment, high construction costs and growing interest rates on debt payments. This comes after 10% of the state’s public school system left the education workforce before the 2023-2024 school year.

In New York, school districts are also laying off an increasing number of teachers amid budget shortfalls caused by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) proposed budget, which reduces funding for public schools by a whopping $400 million, according to News 12 Long Island. The Riverhead Central School District also announced it would cut 38 teaching jobs.

Similar to California, Arkansas and New York, Maryland is also firing many teachers to balance its fiscal budget.

The Howard County Public School System announced it would cut nearly 350 jobs to balance Maryland’s fiscal 2025 budget. The district’s acting superintendent said, “a significant portion of our budget is staff, we cannot address the structural financial challenges without impacting staff.”