The DOE & DOL Spent the Summer Boosting Teacher Talent Pipeline Efforts

The DOE & DOL Spent the Summer Boosting Teacher Talent Pipeline Efforts

While students and families across the U.S. enjoyed time off during the summer months, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Labor (DOL) were busy! In late July, they introduced new guidelines for teacher apprenticeships; new investments and funding opportunities; and more.

Like most industries, school districts have been facing a multi-year labor crunch marked by challenges hiring teachers, aides, medical personnel, bus drivers, and other staff. The situation worsened during the COVID crisis, which saw public education lose 9% of or 730,000 jobs. At the same time, future pipelines of teacher talent looked to be coming up short. Combined, these make the July announcements even more valuable. Here’s what they included…

The National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards (NGS), developed by The Pathways Alliance, are designed to “guide states, school districts, and other apprenticeship sponsors to align their programs to quality standards for K-12 teachers. It also provides a framework that partners can use to develop state specific program standards and provide for expedited development and approval of new apprenticeship programs.” This is part of a long-term plan to strengthen and diversify the teacher workforce, while addressing the teacher shortage, by expanding the number of states with quality apprenticeship programs that reduce costs associated with getting licensed.

A new policy brief from the DOE, entitled Raise the Bar: Eliminating Educator Shortages through Increased Compensation, High-Quality and Affordable Preparation and Teacher Leadership, calls “on state and local leaders to utilize five key policy levers to Raise the Bar and eliminate educator shortages.” Levers include increasing compensation, expanding educator preparation programs, promoting career advancement and leadership opportunities, providing ongoing learning opportunities, and increasing diversity of educators.

Over $27 million in new awards were announced by the DOE. Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants totaling $14.5 million focus on strengthening preparation programs and supports for new teachers. Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) funds of $12.7 million will “support the implementation of evidence-based practices that prepare, develop, or enhance the skills of educators” while also enabling the creation, expansion, and evaluation of practices that can be replicated and scaled.

In addition, the DOL awarded over $65 million in grants to 45 states and territories for apprenticeship programs in education and other sectors (indications are that 35 states are using the funds to address education sector needs). At the same time, the DOL introduced RTI International as a new Registered Apprenticeship intermediary focused on launching, promoting, and expanding programs for k-12 education.

While you and your team become familiar with these new tools, resources, and opportunities, you can depend on RBT CPAs to address all of your accounting, tax, audit, and advisory needs. To learn more, give us a call today.


RBT CPAs do not outsource work to any other country. All of our work is prepared in the U.S.A. 

Five Ideas to Strengthen Recruiting and Retention Results

Five Ideas to Strengthen Recruiting and Retention Results

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing I don’t need to tell you about the many challenges municipalities face when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. So, let’s get right to it – what can you do to enhance efforts to compete for and win talent today?

While there are no silver bullets, following are ideas you may want to consider incorporating into your recruiting and retention strategies (if you haven’t already done so).

  1. Conduct focus groups and exit interviews. There’s no better way to understand what attracts and keeps people working for your organization than to ask. Focus groups show existing employees their input matters and can make a difference, while allowing you to identify key value propositions to market to prospective employees. At the same time, exit interviews can garner important insights into what you can do or change to create a work environment that people want to be part of.
  2. Build an employment brand. While you may be hard-pressed to justify hiring a branding agency, there’s a good likelihood you already have content to build on – namely, your municipality’s mission, values, and strategic plans. These were created to reveal why your municipality exists, what it strives to achieve and how, and where it’s going next. When you bring these to life with compelling examples and stories you can easily share on social media and your website, you not only educate community members about what you’re accomplishing, but also establish a sense of pride among existing employees while giving prospective employees insights into what it’s like to be part of the municipality’s team.
  3. Update and streamline recruiting processes. Your recruiting process gives prospects insights into what they can expect on the job. Nothing screams “bureaucracy” and “outdated” like convoluted job descriptions; paper intensive processes; and a lengthy timeline for hiring decisions. Maybe now is a good time to process map all the steps in your recruiting and hiring processes to identify what’s no longer needed and what can be updated with technology. Even better, invite existing employees to partake in a special learning/professional development opportunity by creating a taskforce where they can have input on shaping the future of recruiting and retention.
  4. Market your total rewards. Maybe your municipality doesn’t offer the highest pay, but perhaps it does provide health care and wellness benefits, along with valuable opportunities to build retirement income; paid time off; longevity pay; flexibility to work from home or work part-time hours; job security; being part of a positive team environment; getting hands-on experience; making a difference; and more. Let prospects know about your entire rewards package and take time to remind existing employees how to make the most of their rewards.
  5. Establish and nurture win-win relationships to support recruiting. Many high schools and/or clubs have community service requirements. Are there roles in your municipality that can help meet those requirements while educating students about careers in public service? What about reaching out to your local high school/college alumni looking for jobs upon graduation? College career development offices often look to help pair up graduating students with local employers – make sure they know you’re interested in attending upcoming job fairs. Also, more unions are helping to promote job opportunities that can benefit their members or attract new ones. Finally, employees looking for career development opportunities may step up to serve as mentors to new workforce entrants looking to get ahead.

As you consider how to strengthen your municipality’s recruiting and retention strategies, we want to make sure you know about the two ways RBT CPAs can support your efforts. RBT CPAs can free you up to focus on strategic imperatives like recruiting by supporting your municipality’s accounting, tax, audit, and advisory needs. In addition, our Vision Human Resources Services affiliate provides recruiting and other HR-related services. To learn more, give us a call today.


RBT CPAs is proud to say all of its work is prepared in the U.S.A.  We never outsource outside the U.S.A.  To learn more about the accounting, tax, audit, and business advisory services our local team members can provide for your business, give us a call.

New Inspection Standards Are In Effect for Public and Multifamily Housing

New Inspection Standards Are In Effect for Public and Multifamily Housing

Starting July 1, public housing inspections can be conducted using the Final Rule of National Standards for Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE)

Designed to strengthen HUD’s physical condition standards, the new standards detail inspectable items; classify whether they are considered life-threatening, severe, moderate or low-risk; define the correction timeframe which ranges from 24 hours to 30 or 60 days; and more. You and your team may want to develop a plan for reviewing the standards and ensuring they are met.

Major changes include:

  • Life threatening and severe deficiencies must be addressed within 24 hours.
  • The Smoke Alarm Standard is now consistent with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 72.
  • Creation of a Fire Door Standard with details about function, operability, and structural integrity requirements.
  • Installation of carbon monoxide alarms in compliance with 2018 International Fire Code.
  • Minimum temperature requirements during the colder months and a permanent heating source requirement.
  • Criteria for when guardrails and handrails are required.
  • Establish infestation deficiencies based on observations with clarification on citable pests.
  • Develop deficiencies based on observed mold conditions or elevated moisture levels as measured by a moisture meter.
  • Add a deficiency for an enhanced visual assessment of deteriorated paint in units where children under age 6 reside to document potential lead-based paint hazards.
  • Specify Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection as a requirement.
  • Include affirmative habitability requirements for bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms used by residents.

HUD is committed to review the standards every three years, at a minimum. In addition to the Final Standards Notice, HUD will be publishing Scoring and Administrative Notices this summer.

For more information on NSPIRE, visit the NSPIRE homepage and view the video of the NSPIRE Standards.

In an unrelated note, we want to make sure you aware of these funding opportunities announced in June:

While getting acquainted with the new inspection standards, you can depend on RBT CPAs to handle all of your account, tax, audit and advisory needs. We believe we succeed when we help you succeed. To learn more, give us a call.


RBT is proud to say all of our work is prepared in the U.S.A. – we never offshore. As a result, you get peace of mind that your operation’s financial and confidential information is handled by full-time, local staff who have met RBT CPA’s high standards for quality, ethics, and professionalism.

New Funding Opportunities Announced: July 28 Deadline

New Funding Opportunities Announced: July 28 Deadline

Now that the debt ceiling crisis has been averted, there’s time to focus on other things – like upcoming funding opportunities through the Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund and regional economic development councils (REDCs). With July 28 at 4 p.m. as the deadline for both, here’s what to know and do…

New! Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund (MHMF)

Introduced this year, the Mid-Hudson REDC – representing Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, Sullivan, and Westchester – will award up to $150 million for infrastructure, transit-oriented development (TOD), and mixed-use housing project investments aligning with the council’s regional strategy.

Eligible applicants include municipalities, non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, and public benefit corporations (i.e., IDAs and LDCs). Eligible projects include facility rehabilitation, construction, and expansion; design/engineering for construction; infrastructure and site development; and equipment and machinery.

Ideal projects are those that can begin quickly, have community support, leverage non-state investment, are financially sound, and/or will result in increased affordable housing. For complete details, see the program guidelines and application.

REDC Funding Opportunities

The Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) opened on May 15, providing access to apply for funding – in the form of capital or tax credits – from up to 30 different programs (depending on eligibility). This year, there are two new micro-grant programs – each will reward up to $5 million in grants:

  1. Craft Beverage Microgrant Program providing $25,000 to $50,000 grants for equipment purchases and facility upgrades.
  2. Not-for-Profit Capital Grant Program providing matching grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 for facility improvements and upgrades.

REDCs are encouraged to support projects that advance state priorities. This includes childcare, distressed communities, green buildings, sustainable development, and innovative public-private partnerships. Also, REDCs have been instructed to update their economic and development plans to confirm growth priorities, define resource deployment, and map out how goals will be achieved. As part of this process, each REDC will pick one challenge and develop proposed creative and innovative solutions; up to three REDCs will receive up to $10 million in funding to execute their proposals.

For more information, including a guidebook, summary of grants, an application manual, informational webinars, and more, click here.

While you’re identifying and applying for potential funding, remember, RBT CPAs is here to lighten your load by providing accounting, tax, audit, and advisory services. We’ve been proudly serving the Hudson Valley (and beyond) for over 55 years and complete all work locally – we never outsource or offshore. To learn more about how RBT CPAs can support and contribute to your success, give us a call.

Testing a Four-Day School Week

Testing a Four-Day School Week

School districts in certain parts of the country have adopted a four-day school week, primarily in response to staffing shortages and recruiting challenges. In some instances, local districts that were losing teachers and other staff to those offering the four-day school week had no choice but to do the same. With this trend picking up steam, especially following COVID, is it only a matter of time before it becomes a nationwide norm?

As an accountant, a partner in an accounting firm, and a working mother of two children in elementary school, I definitely have my own perspective on the topic. Before jumping to conclusions, I wanted to do some research to see if there’s something I’m missing and to better educate myself on the issues.

As reported by the Rand Organization, 257 U.S. schools operated on a four-day week in 1999. Within just 20 years that increased by over 622%, growing to more than 1,600 schools across 24 states by 2019. More than 70% were in rural locations that deal with higher costs for transportation and operations while struggling to attract and keep talent due to lower pay. Still, one big question – perhaps the most important one – remains: How does it affect students?

A study of student achievements in grades 3 to 8 shows students with a shorter school week fall a little bit behind their five-day-a-week peers each year. After about eight years, the total learning loss is similar to the loss experienced during COVID.  What’s more, results showed the five-day-a-week peers progressing faster.  (Source: Doss, C; Kilburn, R; Phillips, A. The Four-Day School Week: Are the Pros Worth the Cons? April 2023.

That’s not to say there aren’t positives to the approach. Rural schools, in particular, find it to be a potent solution to attract and retain talent, improve job satisfaction, reduce burnout, and offset lower pay. It also reduces operational costs related to buildings, buses, school meals, substitute teachers, and more (although the savings is not much – just an estimated 1% to 2%). Teachers have more time to plan for lessons and complete grading. Overall, school morale appears to improve, but what about the students?

When I read the data available on the four-day-school-week, I was struck by how most of the benefits discussed don’t have anything to do with the students. I struggle with that. After all, the whole reason a school exists is for the children to learn, grow, and prepare to live successful lives.

As a business leader, it just feels counter-intuitive to promote an approach that doesn’t benefit clients. In truth, any business that doesn’t put its clients first won’t be in business for long. As noted by Rand, “A better approach to improving outcomes for both students and teachers would be to address the root cause of the challenges schools and districts face, including insufficient and inequitable funding and teacher and student stress.”

Numerous other studies are starting to come out on the issue. One showed fifth-grade students losing about five to six weeks of gains in math for each year of four-day schooling. Another study found it harms certain students more than others, with elementary school students showing a slower pace of growth on standardized math tests than their peers going to school five days a week; reading results were worse. In a minority of cases, when students make up time lost by attending school for more hours Monday through Thursday, learning doesn’t seem to be impacted.

One other point worth noting is that while the four-day-a-week saves schools money, it actually drives up costs for students’ families. A report on CNN indicated the shorter school week can result in an annual increase of $5,000 to $9,000 in childcare costs, which is between 5% and 9% of the median family income.  It feels like cost-shifting to me.

Personally, given global competition, the rapid growth of technology, and the ever-quickening pace of change, I would prefer to see children having more learning opportunities and time – not less. They already lost learning and socializing opportunities to COVID. Solutions to recruitment, retention, and costs absolutely need to be addressed, but not at our children’s expense. There just has to be a better way.

If your school district is facing financial challenges and looking for opportunities to save or manage funds better, perhaps RBT CPAs can help. Our firm has been serving clients in the Hudson Valley and beyond for over 50 years – including numerous school districts. In addition to accounting, tax, and audit services, our team is also available to provide advisory services to help you make the most of the money available. Perhaps there’s something we can do for you. Interested? Give us a call today.

New Funding Available to Boost Quality and Reduce Energy Costs of Multi-Family HUD Homes

New Funding Available to Boost Quality and Reduce Energy Costs of Multi-Family HUD Homes

On May 11, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the availability of new funding through the Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP). Eligible owners of HUD-assisted multifamily properties serving low-income residents can apply for funds to retrofit solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; increase energy and water efficiency; and boost climate resiliency.

The Inflation Reduction Act provided HUD with $837.5 million in grant and loan subsidy funding and $4 billion in loan commitment authority for GRRP to make HUD multi-family homes healthier, more energy efficient, and more climate resilient.

Funding can be invested in technologies like solar panels, heat pumps, wind-resistant roofing, insulation, low embodied carbon materials, and more. It’s intended to enhance quality of life, while providing safer and healthier living environments and keeping residents safe during natural disasters and extreme weather events.

There are three award cohorts available:

  • Elements Award: $40k/unit or $750k/property. Use funding to add elements to planned renovations that measurably help with climate resilience, energy efficiency, electrification, and renewable energy. For example, install electric HVAC heat pumps, Energy Star windows, fire resistant roofs and clean energy generation systems. HUD expects to make approximately 200 awards with $140 million in funding.
  • Leading Edge Award: $60k/unit or $10 million/property. Use funding for retrofit activities that result in net zero, renewable energy generation, building materials with lower Embodied Carbon, and climate resilience. Complementing the owner’s existing finance strategy, awards enable recapitalization to the highest standards of energy efficiency, emissions reductions, and climate resilience, under programs like LEED and PHIUS. HUD expects to make approximately 100 awards with $400 million in funding.
  • Comprehensive Award: $80k/unit or $20 million/property. Use funding to upgrade properties with the highest need for climate resilience and utility efficiency upgrades, regardless of prior development or environmental retrofit experience. Awardees will have support commissioning property assessments and planning a redevelopment that meets the property’s specific needs and GRRP retrofit objectives. HUD expects to make approximately 300 awards with $1.47 billion in funding.

Funding will be provided in tranches, providing a few opportunities to apply. Funding will be in the form of grants or loans. Additional information and resources are available:

While you’re considering whether to apply for funds, also consider whether you can free up some time by partnering with RBT CPAs for your accounting, tax, audit, and financial advisory needs. We’re a leading firm in the Hudson Valley and our professionals believe we succeed when we help our clients succeed. Interested in learning more? Give us a call, today!

ESSER Update: Where Things Stand & Where They’re Going

With school district budget planning and presentation season underway, no doubt Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds and spending will be part of the discussion. Between ESSER I, II and III, a total of $189.5 billion in Federal funding was provided starting in 2020. Here’s a look at where things stand now and what may be coming next.

ESSER I was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in FY 2020 and allocated $13.2 billion. Funds had to be obligated or budgeted by September 30, 2022 and liquidated or spent by January 28, 2023. (Seven states – including Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin – along with the District of Columbia received an extension to March 30, 2024 to draw down funds.)

ESSER II allocated $54.3 billion under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) in FY 2021. Funds have to be obligated by September 30, 2023 and liquidated by January 28, 2024.

ESSER III was part of the American Rescue Plan and allocated $122.8 billion in FY 2021. Funds must be obligated by September 30, 2024 and spent by January 28, 2025.

Although COVID and all its protocols are becoming a memory, school districts are still dealing with the impact. Initially, funds were used to support continuous learning during the pandemic; reopen schools; and address students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. Then, the funding focus shifted to re-engaging students. Finally, funds focused on recovery, driving educational progress and emotional/mental health, and addressing critical personnel and staffing needs.

Of the Federal funds, New York received $14 billion; the City received $7.66 billion. A November 2022 press release from the Office of the NY State Comptroller revealed big differences in how funds are used. For example, the NYC DOE’s investment in closing the learning gap represents a smaller share of funds than other large NY districts and national peers. Also, while NYC planned to spend 30.6% on operational supports (i.e., reopening costs; teacher retention; learning technology; and existing programs), Rochester and Buffalo allocated about 62%; Syracuse and Yonkers allocated 36% and 38%, respectively.

NYC’s second largest allocation or 28.4% was for full expansion of universal free educational childcare for three-year-olds (although this may be changing to boosting quality of existing programs considering it will cost $752 million annually to maintain an expansion). By comparison, Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Yonkers were planning to use 2% or less for early childhood education.

NYS Comptroller DiNapoli urged school districts to monitor and report on academic recovery so policy makers and the public can “assess the effectiveness of funding decisions made.”

In late December, a U.S. Department of Education report provided an update on ESSER spending for FY 2021. K12 Dive notes, “The report said while there are ‘hopeful signs of recovery,’ education leaders and their communities at every level need to continue maximizing ESSER funds and other federal, state, and local resources to address student needs. Specifically, the report mentioned academic support through high-dosage tutoring programs and high-quality summer learning and after-school programs. Also emphasized was ensuring adequate staffing levels and mental health supports for students.”

Late last year McKinsey & Company surveyed 260 district leaders and found more than 90% of district administrators faced challenges deploying funds due to administrative hurdles, talent shortages, and lack of planning/operational capacity. Based on results, McKinsey suggests assessing the impact of existing investments to see what worked; developing new initiatives to fill gaps and allocate remaining funds; and re-examining next steps based on a set of defined criteria (i.e., student outcomes). McKinsey notes, “Districts can think beyond the two-year time frame, prioritizing investments in which money can be spent now that will build toward the future and reimagining elements of their education strategy and delivery to better meet students’ evolving needs.”

There are two more reasons to re-evaluate remaining ESSER budgets and plans. Costs have dramatically increased due to the economy. Also, as noted as part of Education Department FAQ updated in December, there are more pressing needs to address the pandemic’s impact on learning and emotional/mental health. In fact, districts are advised against using ESSER funds on new construction projects, according to

While your district is focusing on budget season and longer-term plans, you can depend on RBT CPAs to handle your accounting, tax, audit, and advisory needs with the highest levels of ethics and professionalism. We’ve been serving school districts in the Hudson Valley for over 50 years and believe we succeed when we help our clients succeed. Give us a call to see what we can do for you today.

Will Affordable Housing Turn Things Around for New York?

Will Affordable Housing Turn Things Around for New York?

Early this year, Governor Hochul introduced the New York Housing Compact, a strategy to build 800,000 new homes in the next decade to address the state’s affordable housing shortage. While it will take some time to see where everything lands, a big question remains: Will the Housing Compact address the myriad of challenges New York is facing?

Governor Hochul’s strategy involves setting targets for housing growth in every community; removing obstacles and incentivizing construction; and increasing the housing supply and support for renters and homeowners. Municipalities near MTA rail stations will be required to meet certain density targets for multifamily housing within a half-mile of stations. Localities will decide how to meet targets. A $250 million Infrastructure Fund and $20 million Planning Fund will be available. The new State Housing Approval Board or courts will be involved when proposed housing meet affordability criteria but not zoning.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “Across New York, there is a shortage of rental homes affordable and available to extremely low income households (ELI), whose incomes are at or below the poverty guideline or 30% of their area median income (AMI). Many of these households are severely cost burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. Severely cost burdened poor households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice other necessities like healthy food and healthcare to pay the rent, and to experience unstable housing situations like evictions.”

The affordable housing shortage has been linked to New York’s labor situation. As reported in, the governor said, “ While over the last decade, New York has created 1.2 million jobs, only 400,000 new homes have been built. Land-use policies statewide are some of the most restrictive in the nation.” reports that the “plan would give the state power to bypass local zoning laws, but local officials want to maintain control of what is built in their communities.” (Weinter, Mark. “New York’s Affordable Housing Plan Bypasses Local Zoning.” February 2, 2023.

Aside from housing, New York faces a population decrease, which is triggering issues in other areas like public school enrollment, funding, and more. As RBT CPAs reported in “What’s Happening with Enrollment in New York Public Schools?”, 2020-2021 showed historically low population growth in the U.S. that started to change in 2022 with a .4% increase attributable largely to more people moving to the U.S. from international locations than leaving and more births than deaths.

However, the Northeast population declined with more people moving out of the region than into it and New York State showing the biggest decline in the country. While New York had more births than deaths, it wasn’t enough to offset losses due to net domestic migration – 300,000 more people moved out of the state than into it, and it’s not just the economically disadvantaged who are leaving.

CNBC reported, “A survey conducted by SmartAsset tracked the movement of people under 35 earning an adjusted gross income of at least $100,000…It seems young professionals are most eager to leave New York. With a net outflow of 15,788, this state had the highest number of individuals leaving by a significant margin.”

As reported by, “Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt says the cost of living is driving people out of the state. ‘The single biggest threat to the state of New York is the outmigration of our human capital. It’s the loss of future generations of workers, of investors, of employers, taxpayers.’  While housing, no doubt contributes to that, there are a lot of other factors at play, too, like payroll taxes, Medicaid costs, proposed tuition hikes at state public schools, and more. (Reisman, Nick. “Affordability Becomes Watch Word in New York State Budget.” February 17, 2023.

Only time will tell whether affordable housing is the key to solving so many of New York’s challenges. To free you up to focus on the many strategies needed to build and maintain economically sound municipalities, RBT CPAs is here to help with your taxes, audits, accounting, advisory services, and more. We’re one of the leading accounting firms in the Hudson Valley, dedicated to helping our clients succeed. Learn more – give us a call.

Recent HUD Changes Set to Improve Certain Section 8 Housing Costs & More

Recent HUD Changes Set to Improve Certain Section 8 Housing Costs & More

Soon after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published Fair Value Rents for fiscal year 2023, the agency announced proposed changes to how Operating Cost Adjustment Factors (OCAFs) would be calculated, and updated Utility Allowance Factors (UAFs) for 2023. Both took effect February 11 and are designed to reflect the increased costs associated with providing housing thanks to historically high levels of inflation.

OCAFs are used to adjust or set project-based Section 8 rents under the Multifamily Assisting Housing Reform and Affordability Act of 1997 (MAHRAA). They are determined based on market-driven cost calculations for a defined period of time. OCAFs are applied to contract rent excluding any portion paid for debt service.

The factors included in the analysis used to set the OCAFs include electricity, employee benefits, employee wages, fuel oil, goods/supplies/equipment, insurance, natural gas, property taxes, and water/sewer/trash.

For 2023 only, the calculations for determining OCAFs changed in a number of ways. First, instead of comparing data for one-year, longer time periods were used for certain components to ensure the impact of inflation was captured. Second, data was pulled from later in the year (August versus May) to make sure it was more time relevant. Third, HUD switched from the Consumer Price Index to the Producer Price Index and other data to better reflect insurance rate spikes and the real-time cost of property insurance (LeadingAge New York. New Hud Calculation Method Doubles Annual Budget Increase).

The 2023 OCAF values apply to properties with contracts expiring on or after February 11.  They vary by state and are listed at the end of the Federal Register Notice. In 2024 and beyond, data used to determine OCAFs will continue to be pulled from August (instead of May), but year to year comparisons – rather than longer time periods – will once again be used.

As for UAFs, they are used when owners/agents of Multifamily Housing properties who receive a utility allowance seek an adjustment to that allowance, per Housing Notice 2015-04.  UAFs are updated once a year and available on the U.S. Office of Policy Development and Research HUD Portal.

2022 ended with more good news for propping up Section 8 Housing funds, thanks to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, signed into law December 30, 2022. reports: “The section of the omnibus appropriations bill that funds HUD had a provision that will bring relief to the Section 8 portfolio, which had rents marked down to market (MTM) over the past 20 years. Section 236 of the general provisions amends MAHRAA to provide for MTM properties to receive a budget-based rent increase (BBRI) that includes new debt service, debt-service coverage, and reserve deposits.” goes on to say: “An owner now has the opportunity to receive a budget-based rent increase to cover operating costs or to substantially rehabilitate and recapitalize the property for the next 20 years. Most owners likely will do a major rehab as these properties are more than 40 years old, and they typically had minimal work completed as part of the MTM restructuring.” Watch for additional guidance in the coming months. (Ruvolo, Anthony and Wallace, Stephen. New Life for Section 8 Market to Market Properties. January 11, 2023.

No doubt all of this is good news will also result in heightened Section 8 housing activities and work. While you’re focusing on making the most of financial enhancement opportunities, you can depend on RBT CPAs to stay focused on your tax, accounting, audit, and consulting needs. We’re one of the top accounting firms in the Hudson Valley, known for our professionalism, knowledge, ethics, community service, and exceptional client experience. To learn more, give us a call today.

What’s Happening with Enrollment in New York Public Schools?

What’s Happening with Enrollment in New York Public Schools?

Welcome to 2023 and the annual budget planning season. In addition to a myriad of factors that may play into budget discussions – from inflation and staff shortages to COVID, learning losses, mental health, and more – you may want to be prepared to speak about what’s going on with public school enrollment nationally, regionally, statewide, and in your district.

As reported in The New York Times, “School funding is tied directly to enrollment numbers in most states, and while federal pandemic aid has buffered school budgets so far, the Biden administration has made it clear that the relief is finite. Some districts are already bracing for budget shortfalls.”

It all starts with the biggest picture – U.S. population growth. On December 22, the U.S. Census Bureau provided an update.  After 2020-2021 showed historically low population growth in the U.S., 2022 started to show a rebound with .4% population growth due largely to international immigration (more people moving to the U.S. than leaving) and natural causes (more births than deaths).

However, the Northeast region of the country experienced a decline, largely due to negative net domestic migration (more people moving out of the region than into it). New York state showed the biggest decline in the country. While New York was one of 26 states with the highest natural increase (about 35,000 more births than deaths), it wasn’t enough to offset the huge losses due to net domestic migration (almost 300,000 more people moving out of the state than into it).

New York’s declining population is impacting the state’s public school enrollment. As reported by the Office of the New York State Comptroller, “Statewide, public school enrollment fell by a full 3 percent in the 2020-21 school year and a further 2 percent in the 2021-22 school year. This is significant, as student enrollment is a key factor in determining how much education aid districts receive from the State.”

The New York Empire Center reinforces these findings and reports a decline of over 5% since 2020 (it also has maps where you can see 2021 to 2022 enrollment numbers and percent change by district, county, and more).

New York is not alone. According to, between Spring of 2020 and 2022, U.S. public school enrollment shrunk by nearly 1.3 million students. Five states saw net gains from 2020 to 2022, while 19 experienced a 3% decline or more. In terms of demographics, it appears the youngest students – a.k.a. kindergarten – experienced the largest decrease. (Remember, however, these youngsters were also among the last approved to receive COVID vaccines.)

No doubt, COVID impacted these numbers and resulted in more students being homeschooled, as well as increases in private and parochial school enrollments. (That doesn’t even get into the number of students who relocated to other parts of the country thanks to new flexibilities afforded to families via the option to work remotely.) However, New York’s declining public school enrollment started long before COVID.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from 2006 to 2011, New York State enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools dropped by 3.7% and the downward slide continued between 2011 and 2023 with another decrease of 1.9%.

What about the future? As reported by, “Enrollment is projected to fall further, by about 4%, through 2030 as the school-aged population is expected to keep shrinking. Whereas half of U.S. states actually saw increases from 2009 to 2020, the future declines will be far more widespread, the analysis found. Enrollment in pre-K through grade 8 is projected to decrease by 5% with high school enrollment falling by 2%.” It’s projected New York will be the 10th state for largest declines at 8%. (Learn more in the National Center for Education Statistics 2022 Report on the Condition of Education.)

However, not all New York public school districts are in the same situation. As reported by, “The state Board of Regents outlined its budget and legislative priorities, which include proposals like universal pre-K, universal access to Career and Technical Education (CTE), expanding opportunities for services and programs, supporting districts with rapid enrollment growth, and expanding access to school meals.”

If enrollment change is a growing concern in your district, you may want to consider conducting a  demographic study and forecast to help inform your budget process and community stakeholders.  While that’s outside RBT CPAs’ wheelhouse, our experts are available to help your district with accounting, taxes, audits, and more. To learn what RBT CPAs – a leading accounting firm in the Hudson Valley for over 50 years – can do for you, give us a call.