Careful School Budget Cuts

By Charles K. Trainor

Communities across the country are enduring the burdens of creeping inflation, rising taxes, and high unemployment. Economic suffering has prompted a dramatic shift in our political landscape. Budgets are scrutinized, school boards are criticized, and the financial management skills of superintendents and administrators are questioned. Governors in several states are launching unprecedented attacks on administrative salaries and on the unions representing teachers, support staff, and custodians.

To appease angry taxpayers, governors and state legislators are slashing state aid to schools and seeking to repeal collective bargaining rights. Efforts to minimize tax increases and reduce budget expenditures have eliminated thousands of education-related jobs. Many more positions will be eliminated in coming months.

California has sent out almost 22,000 layoff notices to school employees. In Arkansas, the Forrest City school district expects to lay off 75 employees to save $2.6 million. New York City is set to lay off 4,675 teachers and cut another 1,500 through attrition, if state aid estimates are accurate. Oregon’s Salem-Keizer school district expects to cut 400 teaching positions next year to help close a $55 million budget gap. Last year, the Elgin, Ill., area school district reduced staffing by 400 employees to close a $40 million budget shortfall.

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