Monday, September 1, 2008

FINANCIAL CRISIS BEING FELT IN SCHOOLS

NY Times - As 50 million children return to classes across the nation, crippling increases in the price of fuel and food, coupled with the economic downturn, have left schools from California to Florida to Maine cutting costs. Some are trimming bus service, others are restricting travel, and a few are shortening the school week. And as many districts are forced to cut back, the number of poor and homeless students is rising.

"The big national picture is that food and fuel costs are going up and school revenues are not," said Anne L. Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association. "We’re in a recession, and it’s having a dramatic impact on schools.". . .

Detroit has laid off at least 700 teachers, Los Angeles 500 administrators and Miami-Dade County hundreds of school psychologists, maintenance workers and custodians.

Schools in many states have cut bus stops to save diesel. Districts in California and Ohio have gone further and eliminated bus service either completely or for high schools, leaving thousands of students to find their own way to school.

In Maine, officials worried about the cost of heating their classrooms this winter have restricted travel for field trips to save money. Districts in Louisiana, Minnesota and elsewhere have taken a more radical measure and adopted four-day school weeks. Hundreds of districts, responding to higher food prices, are charging more for cafeteria meals.

In interviews, educators in many states said they were seeing more needy families than at any time in memory.

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