Fiscal First Aid

Fiscal First Aid for School Districts: Additional Considerations for Schools Dealing with COVID-19

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THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has been especially difficult for governments tasked with continuing to provide essential services to their community, initiating efforts to help fight the disease, pivoting almost overnight to address the new challenges of employees working from home, and addressing staggering unemployment and economic hardships. At the same time governments are tasked with doing more, their own revenue is taking a gigantic hit from a significantly reduced tax base, creating grim budget scenarios, the difficulty of forecasting with extreme uncertainty, and the need to implement cutback measures to reduce expenses. This difficulty is further compounded for school districts tasked with providing not only a quality education to their students but also ensuring their safety and welfare, regardless of whether or not classes are being held in-person or virtually.

GFOA’s Fiscal First Aid program lays out a 12-step process for recovering from financial distress. Included in this framework are strategies for recognizing, arresting, and reversing a pattern of financial decline. Strategies relate to all areas of finance, but facing this challenge is a team effort and requires collaboration and coordination across multiple disciplines, departments, and levels of the organization. This research paper expands upon these fiscal first aid strategies with additional, school-district-specific considerations for mitigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.