Budget woes continue to plague education

"This year is bad, but next year could be worse," said Domenech.
"This year is bad, but next year could be worse," said Domenech.

The federal stimulus package might have saved thousands of teaching jobs, but many thousands more remain in jeopardy — as well as virtual-school programs, higher-education funding, and other school initiatives — as a result of lingering budget crises in states from coast to coast.

In Missouri, a new round of budget cuts announced Oct. 28 threaten operation of the state’s online school. In Michigan, schools face the prospect of nearly $300 less in state funding per pupil. A Colorado plan would cut $145 million from higher education in that state, Arizona has warned of “massive” teacher layoffs next year, and teacher furloughs in Hawaii have raised citizens’ ire.

“The federal stimulus funds have helped schools, but not as much as hoped,” Mark Bielang, president of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and superintendent in Paw Paw, Mich., said in a statement.

AASA on Oct. 27 released findings from a new survey revealing that school districts continue to struggle in response to the economic recession, and many are bracing for further cuts.

Two-thirds of the 875 school leaders polled this fall reported having to eliminate personnel positions for the 2009-10 school year, and 83 percent anticipate having to eliminate further positions in 2010-11.

When asked how their districts are using federal stimulus funds to bring about education reforms, 47 percent of respondents said these funds are merely filling budget cuts and aren’t enough to support new innovations.

“This year is bad, but next year could be worse,” said Daniel A. Domenech, AASA’s executive director, in a statement. “School districts are bracing themselves for a ‘one-two punch’ as they budget for the 2010-11 school year. They will be facing tough questions about items, programs, and personnel that can be cut with the least impact on student achievement, considering what–if any–economic recovery is in store at the state and local levels, and contemplating the anticipated end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.”

Recent action in several states confirms Domenech’s predictions.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon cut an additional $204 million from Missouri’s budget on Oct. 28 and eliminated nearly 700 state jobs in an attempt to offset a continued decline in state tax revenues.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.