No more paper, no more books: Schools finding creative ways to save money during recession

Over the past year the economic downturn has created plenty of hardships for our schools. With increased costs, reduced funding from the government and a lack of public support for levies; schools are working to find new ways to meet budgets without sacrificing their quality of education.

So far we've already seen teachers forced to sell ad space on tests to make up for a lack of school supplies, school districts cut the number of standardized tests they give and others cranked down the thermostats last fall. Some school systems have even gone as far as cutting off kids with overdue lunch balances and asking parents to pitch in with cash to meet needs.

Even though some states are receiving federal stimulus money for education, many are still looking to cut back on expenses, some in very creative ways.

The kids in De Soto Kansas get to turn up Alice Cooper's classic sooner than expected this year, as summer comes two days early, and on a Friday no less, in order to save $14,300! The early summer dismissal is possible because the school district didn't use any days for bad weather, so it will still meet state requirements.

The school district in Arlington Texas is facing the possibility of moving 120 teachers between the secondary schools in order to meet district needs without firing any staff, instead focusing on cutting numbers through attrition. The school board may even offer a $250 bonus to teachers who let the district know they won't be back in a timely manner. Overall the moves and increased class size will save the district $16.8 million.

Schools in Indiana are facing some particularly tough choices for the upcoming year's budget. One school district is asking staff to voluntarily reduce their hours to save the district money. Another is looking at moving students to another building, ending sports and combining bus routes.

It seems that no matter where you live, school systems are working overtime to cut costs. Even Catholic schools are having trouble staying afloat with low enrollment and increased costs. Is your child's school district cutting back? If so what programs have received the axe?
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