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California Schools Under Less Pressure, But Recession Cuts Linger

An improving economy and new funds from Proposition 30 taxes mean pressures are easing on California’s largest school districts.

Aired 8/22/13 on KPBS News.

An improving economy is lessening some pressures on California's schools, but challenges remain after years of state funding cuts.

A new report from EdSource shows many of the state’s 30 largest districts are adding back school days that were cut to save money and fewer are considering laying off teachers this year.

This was the first time in at least four years San Diego Unified, the state's second-largest school district, didn’t consider teacher layoffs to balance its budget.

That's made this summer easier for Joe Austin, principal at Joyner Elementary in City Heights.

“To know with confidence that I’m going to get my entire staff back — for the most part, the stability, that’s a new experience for us," Austin said. "So, in that sense alone, it’s a lot less stressful planning from the end of last year to the beginning of next.”

Despite improvements, years of state cuts have left many districts with larger class sizes. Continuing budget shortfalls mean class sizes will climb from 24 to 27 students in most of San Diego Unified's kindergarten through third grade classrooms. The percentage of children living in poverty is also up across the state and districts have fewer counselors to support students than before the recession hit.

Districts are also offering fewer summer courses for students who are struggling or have to make up credits than they were before the recession.

Poway Unified and Sweetwater Union High School District were the other San Diego County districts included in the report.

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