C2 Data Provides Clues for New Budgets
New analysis of the Category 2 budget utilization from FY2015 to FY2019 yields important new insights. The current budget floor is too low, and adjustments need to be made to the per student and per square foot budget factors.

Current Budget Floor is Too Low
Nationwide, the average budget utilization from 2015 to 2019 was 60.3%; however, for small sites – those that only qualify for the budget floor of $9,793 – the average utilization rate was 33.4%, nearly half the normal utilization rate.

The chart below shows the average utilization rate for each of the various site budget levels, starting at the budget floor and continuing up to $150,000. The utilization of site budget drops significantly for sites with budget amounts set below $30,000.
 
 
The lower utilization rate at sites qualifying for the budget floor is not limited to small, single site applicants. As illustrated in the following table, even large school districts and library systems have lower average utilization rates at their “floor” budget sites. For example, for applicants that consist of 10 to 24 sites, the average budget utilization rate for sites with budgets greater than the floor is 66.2%. For sites with a budget set at the floor, the average budget utilization rate drops to 35.6%.
 
Sites with a floor-based budget have a lower utilization rate, regardless of the applicant’s size. This is further indication that the budget floor amount is too low; and, given the utilization data, it suggest that the budget floor should be set at $30,000.

Per Student Factor Should be $255.78
Funds For Learning reviewed the amount of budget utilized at each school site from 2015 to 2019. Below the budget cap of $159, there is a consistent distribution of school budget utilization. The following chart illustrates the running percentage total of school sites based on the amount of budget that was utilized as calculated on a per student basis. For example, 33% of sites used $80 per student or less of their budget. 50% of sites used $131 per student or less. The slope of this line is consistent until it reaches the $159 per student cap at which point it jumps dramatically. This jump is the result of the budget cap.
 
From the chart, it appears that approximately 40% of school sites needed a higher per student budget cap. If the demand line were to continue unimpeded, the trendline suggests that it would reach 100% of applicants at a cap of $255.78 per student.

Library Factor Should be Increased Slightly
Library budget utilization data from 2015 to 2019 yields similar, yet less pronounced results. Although most libraries did not fully utilize their C2 budget, the demand curve suggest that a small percentage of libraries would have benefited from a slightly higher per square foot budget cap.
  • For rural libraries, the cap should be set at $2.99 per ft2 to meet current demand.
  • For urban libraries, the cap should be set at $5.97 per ft2 to meet current demand.
 
 
 
Higher resolution graphs and tables of supporting data are available for download here.