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Tide turns against schools as foreclosures rise


Across the United States, declining property values and mortgage foreclosures have led to huge losses in property tax revenues, forcing schools to trim budgets, freeze hiring, and in a few cases, make substantial job cuts — raising doubts about the future of a range of education programs, USA Today reports. Already, St. Lucie, Fla., schools have lost $22 million in tax revenue from lower property values, and the district is staring at a 25-percent budget cut in the fall. It has frozen salaries and put central office employees on a four-day workweek. Enrollment is down only slightly, but if things get much worse, schools here may cut athletics, after-school activities, and summer school to the bone–or even consider a four-day week for students. "It’s not something I’d advocate, but if Florida takes a massive hit, we might not flat-out have the money to make payroll," says Superintendent Mike Lannon. "There are no sacred cows." A USA Today analysis has identified St. Lucie and six other school districts–Clark County in Nevada, Lee County in Florida, Murrieta Valley Unified and Temecula Valley Unified in California, and Fowler Elementary and Riverside Elementary in Arizona–as being particularly vulnerable to budget cuts in the coming year. They’re in areas hit by a wave of mortgage delinquencies, foreclosures, and upside-down mortgages, in which borrowers owe more than their homes are worth…

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