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Economics a sore subject for public schools

During the economic downturn after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, half the states still managed to avoid major school aid cuts – but this time, up against the worst economic crisis in decades, schools are not immune, reports. Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, and South Carolina are among states that cut into elementary and secondary education budgets for the current school year. In November, North Carolina schools were forced to return $58 million to help cover an expected shortfall. Alabama, California, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Washington also expect to reduce school funding this year. Alabama schools could face the largest cuts in 48 years. Washington is considering cuts of more than $1 billion. In California, Republican legislators have proposed cuts of up to $10 billion. The story is the same throughout the country. States and school districts have begun pinching pennies wherever they can. Economy measures include changing school bus routes, forcing children to walk farther; buying fewer new library books and assigning librarians to multiple schools; and asking parents to help supply such basics as toilet paper. Art, music and other elective classes are getting the ax, and classes are becoming more crowded. Only two years ago, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said he would withhold state funding if school districts didn’t comply with a 2006 state law limiting class size; now, the state is waiving the requirement until at least 2010. The Los Angeles School District might sell billboard space on school grounds that face a freeway, and Nevada’s Clark County School District, which has to find cuts of at least $120 million in each of the next two school years, has discussed selling ads on school buses…

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