Severe school cutbacks will take noticeable toll

Students leaving Westport High School in Kansas City, Mo.


Bill Radke: Kids are going back to school this month across the country, and some of them will be returning to leaky roofs and bigger classes. School budget cuts have hit hard. Even though Congress just approved $26 billion to help save teachers' jobs, reporter April Dembosky tells us it will not close all the gaps.

April Dembosky: Schools usually try to make cuts that will have the least impact on student learning. They'll alter the thermostat or reroute school buses, maybe cut down on supplies. Noelle Ellerson of the American Association of School Administrators says this year, it's way worse.

Noelle Ellerson: So the fact that it's so widespread that teachers are being cut, classroom sizes being increased, summer schools are being eliminated and they're looking at alternating the school year calendar shows you that it's pretty bad.

Even the smaller cuts have an effect. Jennifer Reid teaches middle school English and History in the San Francisco Bay Area. She says even the decision not to update a software program can slow students down.

Jennifer Reid: I see students having to save their documents at home as an older version of that software so they can open them at school. These are little things, but they turn out to be a pain in the neck.

The economy is showing signs of stabilizing, but Noelle Ellerson says it could take another year and a half before schools start to return to fiscal health.

I'm April Dembosky for Marketplace.


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