The US government faces a $20-billion shortfall in the fiscal year that begins on March 1, 2018, as lawmakers and the president battle to close a backlog of nearly 2.5 million new student applications and raise funds for schools.
The shortfall comes as the nation’s biggest teachers unions, and the largest school districts, are struggling to keep up with rising demand.
As the nation has become more dependent on charter schools, a growing number of public school districts have been forced to seek outside funding for the costs of their charter school operations.
The $20.9 billion shortfall represents about half the federal deficit for the fiscal first quarter, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
That means the deficit will hit the $26.7 billion mark in fiscal 2021.
States, which control the fate of tens of millions of children, are facing their own challenges as well.
While California, New York and Massachusetts have already faced a shortfall, the Trump administration has vowed to push ahead with a new initiative to allow states to raise their state income tax rates to attract private investment.
And there is growing frustration in many states with how many students have been placed in charters and how poorly they are receiving critical support.
“This is really a big deal, and we are going to get it done,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week.
“It is going to be tough, and it is going be a big problem.
But we’re going to do it.”
Schumer said he expects a bill to be passed by Congress by early next week.
The White House has already indicated it will support the legislation.
The Trump administration will be spending $25 billion over three years to support schools and provide financial assistance to the nation to help them keep up their programs.
The president is expected to unveil a plan to make charter schools more affordable, although he has not yet made any proposals for how to do that.
States are facing challenges in funding and enrollment, and as the number of charters grows, so do the cost of operating them.
The Obama administration has been criticized for not doing enough to help states manage their finances.
The Department of Education and the White House have been in talks to resolve the issue.
A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress last year would have required states to provide states with a uniform set of criteria for determining whether charters were a good use of their public resources.