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Districts Considering Shorter School Year

Some Utah school districts may shorten the school year by a few days next year in a bid to save money. The state's board of education has given the cash-strapped districts permission to shave up to five days off the school calendar, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Districts were given permission to do so during the current school year because of financial concerns and have been given it again for the next year. But state officials acknowledge it's not ideal.

"What we believe is kids need to be in school more time, not less time," state deputy superintendent Martell Menlove told The Tribune. "But I think under the current financial situation, to not allow at least those who chose to cut five days last year to cut five this year, might put them in a difficult situation."

School districts across the country are looking for ways to cut costs. In Los Angeles, teachers recently agreed to shorten next year's school calendar in a bid to save more of their own jobs. If the board approves the plan today, the nation's second-largest district could save up to $140 million and more than 2,000 jobs.

And a report released last week by the American Association of School Administrators says more districts are considering four-day school weeks to help deal with budget deficits.

In Illinois, the House recently approved a measure allowing school districts to go to four-day weeks, while a similar bill awaits action in the Illinois Senate.

As I've mentioned before, financial prognosticators say things are likely to get worse before they get better for school budgets, so expect to see legislatures, school boards and superintendents get creative in their attempts to deal with the crunch.

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