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District Survey Shows Cuts in Textbooks, Electives, Field Trips

A new report offers a bleak outlook for school districts as federal economic-stimulus aid runs out and many continue to struggle financially, with widespread layoffs and severe cutbacks forecast. For an overview, check out this story by my colleague Alyson Klein.

I decided to take a closer look at the impact on classroom and curriculum matters. The findings are based on surveys of 453 school superintendents and other district-level officials from 45 states. The surveys were conducted last month.

Here's some of what I found.

First, not surprisingly, class sizes are on the rise. In 2008-09, 9 percent of respondents said class sizes increased. That number grew to 26 percent of surveyed districts for this school year, and will more than double to 62 percent in 2010-11.

Many districts are reducing academic interventions and Saturday classes. About half expect cuts in this area next school year, compared with 24 percent in 2009-10 and 5 percent the year before.

Elective courses are taking an increasing hit. About half of those surveyed said they anticipated cuts in such courses for next school year, compared with 16 percent in the current academic year and 6 percent in 2008-09.

Furthermore, increasing numbers of districts are delaying textbook purchases. Roughly half of district officials surveyed expected delays in 2010-11, compared with about one-third this year and 14 percent in 2008-09.

Another area pegged for cuts is school field trips. About half of district administrators expect a cut for 2010-11, compared with 24 percent seeing cuts this school year and 11 percent in 2008-09.

Other areas where cuts are being seen and are expected to grow include summer school, extracurricular activities, and technology purchases.

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