The AJC has a good story on shrinking school budgets. The question is how these deep cuts will affect the classroom and student learning.
In their budgets for the 2013 fiscal year, which began Sunday, many of the biggest school districts cut their teaching staff, which will drive up the number of students in each classroom. Most also imposed furlough days, meaning teachers will lose time for planning lessons or hold class fewer days.
Among metro Atlanta’s biggest school systems, only Fulton County escaped significant cuts. That’s because Fulton curbed spending in prior years, shaving about $200 million since 2009. The rest of metro Atlanta’s big school districts — Atlanta and the systems in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties — slashed around $150 million collectively, cutting at least 2,000 teaching positions.
The loudest uproar was in DeKalb, where about 500 teaching positions and 600 support positions were eliminated as part of $78.6 million in cuts. Class sizes will rise by two students on average. Even with the cuts, the school board raised taxes by one mill, or about 4 percent.
Dori Kleber, a Dunwoody parent, volunteered often at Kingsley Charter Elementary School, where she has two children. The two dozen students in her daughter’s kindergarten class had to squeeze tight to fit on a rug they shared for activities like counting in turn by fives.
Kleber, who graduated from the DeKalb school system, recalls when there were 18 children in a kindergarten classroom. She wonders how big classrooms will be allowed to grow. “It just seems like it’s starting to be impossible,” she said. “My children have had some excellent teachers, but I see those teachers overstressed, overburdened and overwhelmed.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog