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Impact of Economic Crisis on Education Reports from Selected States

January 26, 2009

In Connecticut, the Governor asked agencies to submit budgets with a 10% reduction, including funding for schools.  If these cuts are implemented, there will be massive layoffs and program eliminations.  Several ideas are being floated to save money, including shortening the school year and suspending testing.  If there are no additional funds, at least two magnet schools will close, districts will not offer music and art at the elementary level, course offerings will be eliminated, and 500 to 1000 teachers could be laid off statewide.  Four million dollars in Reading Recovery money has been eliminated in distressed cities.  Elimination of all day kindergarten at the local level is possible as well. 

expects $765 million in cuts to public education between this fiscal year and next year, with over $380 million in additional austerity cuts to the state Quality Basic Education Formula.  Over seven years, there will have been more than $2 billion in cuts.  These cuts have meant reductions in school nurses, elimination of Regional Education Service Authorities (which provide most of the professional development activities and school reform trainings), and no supplements for National Board Certified Teachers.  Recently, the state board of education increased the class size allowance by two students for grades K-8.  Because of the austerity cuts, over 100 of Georgia's 180 school systems have had to max out the property tax millage rate and many systems are close to or have maxed out their reserve funds.  The only other alternative is to cut jobs.

The Illinois budget deficit is $3 to $4 billion and growing.  Draconian reductions to 2009 - 10 funding are a very real threat and will result in RIFs for next year without intervention.

In Missouri, the Appropriations Committees have asked the Department of Education to prepare budget proposals with possible 15% ($51,364,176), 20% ($68,485,568), and 25% ($85,606,960) core cuts for FY 2010.  As school districts develop budgets for the 2009-2010 school year, there are rumors of layoffs.  The Columbia School District is talking about laying off 60 teachers to meet the budget.

New Hampshire is beginning to receive information about RIFs.  In addition, other employers in the state are asking employees to work fewer hours or asking for give-backs.  Schools are cutting back on energy -- asking staff to use technology less and turn down the heat in buildings.  Bad weather has shut down the schools for multiple days and support staff have ended up owing their districts money on pay day because they haven’t worked enough days during a pay period to cover the cost of their insurance. 

In New Mexico, next year’s proposed cuts are devastating, reducing the school year by one day (thus, teacher salaries by .5%) and increasing class sizes.  Schools may have to defer maintenance and use maintenance money to pay insurance costs.

Rhode Island’s supplemental budget submitted by the Governor proposes 7% mid-year cuts of state aid to education.  An additional 6.5% to municipal governments also will be cut.  The budget does away with all school bus monitors now required to protect young children and no longer requires Certified Nurse Teachers.  There are also numerous cuts to social programs.

Tennessee is projecting an $800 million to $1 billion budget shortfall this year.  The Governor has indicated there may be as many as 2,000 state employees laid off.  The University of Tennessee is projecting as many as 700 layoffs in its system statewide if the budget projections hold true.  If the state cuts funding to school systems, the 10,400 teaching positions hired by school districts beyond those required by the Basic Education Program will be the first cut.