Tough Economy Hammers Schools, Colleges

  • November 17, 2008
  • By Pauline Vu

The economic crisis has hit the classroom, and public schools and colleges are taking extreme measures to cope. 

In Alabama, lower-than-expected revenues forced the state to hold back 25 percent of the schools' October allocations until more money arrived. The state paid the rest of the money by Nov. 6, but in the meantime, schools dipped into reserves or borrowed money to pay their bills.
Georgia's DeKalb County school district was faced with cutting $10.5 million from its budget. Anticipating a worsening economy, the school board instead approved plans to cut $20 million and will lay off 127 employees by June. It's also scaling back its signature door-to-door bus service, instead creating pick-up and drop-off hubs for students who travel by bus to school.
“This is the most difficult time many have experienced in their tenure with the district,” said Dale Davis, a district spokesman. “The possibility of layoffs and forgoing programs and things of that sort — how much more difficult does it get?”
In higher education, Rhode Island's three public universities and Michigan State University have taken the unusual step of raising tuition midyear, while the presidents of the 30 colleges in the State University of New York system are asking for a $545 increase for spring 2009. It would be the system's first tuition increase in five years.
Midyear increases are “a measure of last resort,” but one that other colleges and systems will have to consider, said Dan Hurley, the state relations director of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

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