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California Schools Prepare For Major Budget Crisis





It is no secret that California has taken the recession on the chine. Along with the rest of the Nation, California public schools are falling under severe financial stress as districts slash education spending and drain federal stimulus money that staved off deep classroom cuts and widespread job losses. School districts have already suffered big budget cuts since the recession began two years ago, but it stands to get worse, a lot worse, as states run out of stimulus dollars.

Such budget shortfalls could mean more teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, smaller paychecks, fewer electives and extracurricular activities, and decimated summer school programs.

The situation is particularly ugly in California Public Schools, where school districts are preparing for mass layoffs and swelling class sizes as the state grapples with another massive budget shortfall.

In the San Francisco public schools, the district a $113 million budget deficit over next two years and is preparing to lay off hundreds of school employees and raise class sizes as a result.

According to an Associated Press article, the Obama administration's $787 billion federal stimulus package provided roughly $100 billion for education, including $54 billion to stabilize state budgets. In October the White House said the stimulus created or saved 250,000 education jobs.

But many states have used most of their stimulus money, leaving little choice but to make budget cuts in the coming fiscal year.

In California, school districts have already laid off thousands of teachers, increased class sizes and slashed academic programs. But state officials are warning the worst is yet to come because the state has already handed out most of its $6 billion in stimulus money.

Per-pupil spending for K-12 schools fell 4 percent last year and would be slashed another 8 percent under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget for 2010-2011, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office.

The fear in California, especially in districts like San Francisco public school district, is that such budget cuts will have a greater impact on those schools found in more economically challenged areas. Also worrisome is that education funding shortages in some districts will reverse trends where Hispanic and black students had been closing the achievement gap with their Asian and white classmates. Schools in wealthier areas predominantly populated by white and Asian students have the ability in many instances to raise money through special local taxes and assessments leading to greater inequality.

According to an Associated Pres article, more and more districts in California are likely to lay off middle school guidance counselors and cut music and art in elementary school. Many schools laid off close to 10% of its staff over the last 12 months according to one report and most districts have no choice but to consider more layoffs and even bigger class sizes this year.

The problem is at a crisis level. Californians have been dealing with a dysfunctional state government and are suspicious. The lawmakers in Sacramento appear reluctant to make common sense cuts outside of education, and cannot agree on a budget that might take education out of limbo. It is not entirely fair to say that California does not have an income problem as the recession has hit the world’s 8th largest economy very hard.
About Author Michael H Allen :

Michael H Allen is a freelance writer working with <a href="http://www.freeschoolguide.info" target="_blank">http://www.freeschoolguide.info</a> which provides free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Michael has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more information on visit <a target="_new" href="


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