Educators are bracing for a tough reality: As difficult as budget cuts have been on schools, more tough times are likely ahead.
Even in a best-case scenario that assumes strong economic growth next year, it won't be until 2013 or later when districts see budget levels return to pre-recession levels, said Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators in Arlington, Va.
That means more cuts and layoffs are likely ahead. "The worst part is that it's not over," Domenech said. Already, an estimated 294,000 jobs in the education sector have been lost since 2008, including those in higher education.
The cuts are felt from Keller, Texas, where the district moved to a pay-for-ride transportation system rather than cut busing altogether, to Georgia, where 20 days were shaved off the calendar for pre-kindergarten classes. In California, a survey found that nearly half of all districts last year cut or reduced art, drama and music programs.
Nationally, 120 districts — primarily in rural areas — have gone to a four-day school week to save on transportation and utility costs, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Others are implementing fees to play sports, cutting field trips and ending after-school programs.