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Time For School Districts to Do More With Less, Experts Say

The financial downturn American school districts face isn't a temporary one. Experts say this is the beginning of the end of a time when schools enjoyed cushy budgets that grew each year and allowed districts to grow their staffs, even if student enrollment didn't grow.

Even with dollars flowing from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, budgets cuts are certain to be deeper the next two years, and the spending levels we've seen aren't likely to come back.

With the halcyon days of public education finance behind us, some education thought leaders gathered together recently and proposed some major paradigm shifts in how education services are delivered and managed, as I report in the Jan. 27 issue of Education Week.

Check out the story and see what these experts have to say. And if you want even more info, you can read the papers they presented here. They'll all be published in a book later this fall by Harvard Education Press.

This work may prove difficult for school districts, because most superintendent haven't been trained to operate this way and have often layered new programs on top of old because: a) the money was there to do so; and b) it avoided costly political battles with constituencies inside and outside the district.

Has your district been able to buck the trend and spend less while improving student performance? How are you planning to navigate the future would of fewer dollars? Let me know what you think in our comments section, or send me an e-mail.

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