The Kansas City Board of Education voted March 10 to close almost half of the city’s public schools, accepting a sweeping and contentious plan to shrink the system in the face of dwindling enrollment, budget cuts, and a $50 million deficit, reports the New York Times. In a 5-to-4 vote, the members endorsed the Right-Size plan, proposed by Superintendent John Covington, to close 28 of the city’s 61 schools and cut 700 of 3,000 jobs, including those of 285 teachers. The closings are expected to save $50 million, erasing the deficit from the $300 million budget. Supporters of the plan made their case with the district’s data: Enrollment has declined by half in the last 10 years alone, to 17,400 children, and the schools are only 48 percent full. For decades, national education experts said, the Kansas City schools had not responded to changes in demographics that would have spared them such a drastic one-time cut. “Otherwise, this whole scenario would not be as wrenching as it now appears to be,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools……Read More
Podcast Series: Innovations in Education
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Cuts to public TV funding put the squeeze on Big Bird
Facing huge budget deficits, a number of states across the nation are taking a hard look at whether they can continue to support public television, Stateline.org reports. Idaho Public Television already has seen its state funding cut by 61 percent since July 2008, necessitating layoffs, furloughs, and the frequent airing of reruns. Now, a new proposal from Gov. Butch Otter would force it to reduce or eliminate most of its local programming—and cease serving many rural parts of the state altogether. The challenges that Idaho Public Television is facing are emblematic of the decisions that public television stations around the country will have to make if states decide that public TV is no longer a business they can afford to be in. According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, state and local funding for public TV stations nationwide declined by $36 million between 2008 and 2009. CPB forecasts an additional $45 to $49 million in state and local cuts for the upcoming fiscal year. States have cut back on funding during previous economic downturns, says Mark Erstling, a senior vice president at CPB, but this downturn poses a new threat. “The revenue sources [such as member donations] always made up the difference,” he says. “This time around, everything is basically down.”…Read More