Why school stakeholders should worry about the ‘funding cliff’

Districts that have managed to avoid painful cuts no longer might have a choice.

More than 80 percent of schools anticipate budget cuts in the upcoming school year, and administrators are scrambling to maintain school operations in the face of diminishing funds, warns a grim report by the Center on Education Policy (CEP).

That could hinder education reform efforts that are needed to keep the country competitive in the global economy, the center warns.

The report, “Strained Schools Face Bleak Future: Districts Foresee Budget Cuts, Teacher Layoffs, and a Slowing of Education Reform Efforts,” states that until recently, school districts were able to soften the blow to school budget cuts using money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and the Education Jobs law. However, as those funds near depletion, school districts are planning to tighten their belts even more for the 2011-12 school year.…Read More

School libraries pummeled as budget crisis worsens

librarians say few people understand how involved they are in classroom learning and school technology.
librarians say few people understand how involved they are in classroom learning and school technology.

School librarians fear another round of budget cuts in districts across the nation could severely impair students’ development of information literacy and other key 21st-century skills.

As the school budget crisis deepens, administrators have started to view school libraries as luxuries that can be axed, rather than places where kids learn to love reading and do research.

No one will know exactly how many jobs are lost until fall, but the American Association of School Administrators projects 19 percent of the nation’s school districts will have fewer librarians next year, based on a survey this spring. Ten percent said they cut library staff for the 2009-10 school year.…Read More

Budget cuts more painful at inner-city LA schools

When state budget cuts imperiled city schools, a group of parents fought back by enlisting Hollywood stars to spread a message targeting one of their own, Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar, reports the Associated Press. The satirical video featuring actors Megan Fox and fiancee Brian Austin Green highlights how funding shortfalls have killed jobs for librarians, nurses, translators, janitors and teachers. While the video was filmed in the affluent hills above Hollywood where Green’s son attends Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, the cuts are more deeply felt at an inner-city school like Markham Middle School. Both schools have been highlighted as the Los Angeles Unified School District has grappled with $1.5 billion in budget cuts and nearly 3,000 teacher layoffs during the past two years. But comparing the two schools shows a remarkably uneven impact, and just how much depends on factors ranging from income and parent involvement to teacher tenure. The state’s education funding crisis, now entering its third school year, only promises to widen the breech between the haves and have-nots in the nation’s second-largest school district…

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Arkansas distance-learning centers face uncertainty over budget cuts

Many of Arkansas’ distance-learning teachers have been advised their contracts were not automatically renewed for the coming school year because of uncertainty about budget cuts, reports the Arkansas News Bureau. Administrators of the centers say they believe the cuts won’t prevent them from rehiring the teachers in the near future, though they worry that in the meantime some might look for work elsewhere. The centers, whose teachers use communications technology to instruct students without being physically present in the classroom, are funded through grants from the state Education Department. The department expects its budget for distance-learning grants to be cut from $6 million to $4 million for the 2010-11 school year. Close to 15,000 Arkansas public school students took distance-learning classes last year. Some of the classes were ones that school districts were required to offer but could not have done so without distance learning, usually because of a lack of certified, highly qualified teachers…

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