Jack and Jill went up the hill. Jack got robbed. Jill got jobbed.
It isn’t the classic nursery rhyme but it is what students may learn this year as school budgets across the country are gutted.
From Oshkosh, Wis. to Puyallup, Wash., schools will suffer the axe this year as districts and states continue to grapple with big budget holes due to the recession.
The Oshkosh School District, for example, is debating the closure of middle and elementary schools, larger classes and culling around 35 positions, according to WLUK-TV in Green Bay.
Oshkosh’s problems arose after Wisconsin ended the fiscal year with a $2.71 budget gap. Varying by state and district, schools are usually funded by a combination of local, state and federal money.
Thousands of miles away, the Puyallup School District faces a 21 percent budget cut that could result in layoffs, larger classes and a possible school closing, according The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.
“If we don’t get (money) from the state and if we don’t get it from our local taxpayers, we’ve got a
serious problem,” Deputy Superintendent Debra Aungst told the newspaper.
And these are just tiny examples of what is happening everywhere: schools are closing, teachers are being fired, classes sizes are growing, extra curricular classes are being cut, bus routes are dwindling, old textbooks are getting older and fees are being charged for sports that survive the knife.
It’s bad getting worse.
Without higher taxes or more federal money, states will cut kindergarten through high school education funding by 18.5 percent from 2009 through the 2011 fiscal year, which will slash public school funding by 8.7 percent, according to the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education.
The center estimates states will spend $54 billion less on kindergarten through high school public education from last year through this year.
“Revenues are down and state budgets are being cut,” Dr. Marguerite Roza of the University of
Washington said in a recent statement. “We can’t exactly predict what each state will do in the coming years. But from a big picture perspective, we can get a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
Roza said school districts may need to slash around 9 percent or 574,000 of jobs. However, fewer jobs would be lost if districts shorten the school day or cut pay.
Why are states slashing budgets? It’s the economy.
Due to the recession and drained reserves, state budgets are on the operating table because revenues from income taxes, sales taxes, and other sources have declined, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
A way for states to deal with their money problems would be to raise taxes, which is usually unpopular with citizens (who vote) and economists.
Jack and Jill probably won’t get their jobs back anytime soon.
“Budget woes bringing tough cuts”
WLUK TV, fox11.online.com, Jan. 5, 2010
“Puyallup schools say levy failure would be ‘devastating'”
The News Tribune, Jan. 5, 2010
“Economic crisis impacts nations K-12 school ”
Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington, Feb. 10, 2009
“Projections of State Budget Shortfalls on K-12 Public Education Spending and Job Loss”
Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington, February 2009
“An Update on State Budget Cuts”
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Dec. 18, 2009
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