By:  LINDSEY O'NEILL, ESQ.

With the mortgage crisis, there are obviously fewer and fewer homeowners these days - which means fewer property taxes being paid.  Since school district budgets rely heavily on local property taxes, many schools are struggling with increased budget cuts as kids go back to school this year.  This usually translates into teacher and staff layoffs, cuts in school supplies, delaying needed improvements on campuses, and cuts in various school programs.  Some school districts are even going to a 4-day week to save on bussing, school lunches, and other daily costs.

Can schools be successful at appropriately educating our students within such tight budgets?  A lot of teachers I know end up paying for classroom supplies out of their own pockets.  Can teachers pay enough attention to each student with increases in class sizes?  Will students be able to compete for college entrance if vital programs such as sports, music, art, and foreign languages get cut?  Will students with special needs receive an appropriate education?  If teacher salaries and benefits don't keep up with inflation, will our best teachers be lost to other professions?

On the other hand, if there isn't enough money in the budget, then what alternatives are available?  Where can we better reallocate precious funds?  How can we manage programs more effectively?  Are these even the right questions to ask?

Learn more about the education budget from the U.S. Department of Education. You can also find information about your state education budget as well.

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