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Bad Economy: Killing Public Schools?

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That's not all schools are doing to cut costs.

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Soon, school may look very different to your children. Why? It's no surprise the economy isn't doing so hot. And thanks to electricity, water, and gas prices on the rise, the results could impact your kid severely. Kids will walk farther to the bus stop, pay more for lunch, study from old textbooks and wear more hand-me-downs. Field trips and electives may become a thing of the past.

That's not the only way schools are cutting corners.

In Minnesota, one district is canceling Monday classes to save fuel. On the other four days, classes will run 10 minutes longer. According to superintendent Greg Schmidt, a shorter week will save at least $65,000 in fuel.

So where does this leave parents? There's no doubt kids will have to stay awake for longer classes, and many families will be scrambling to find daycare every Monday. Sure, this particular Minnesota district is small with only 700 kids, but in the U.S., 14 other districts are switching to four-day weeks--and more may follow suit, according to a recent survey by the American Association of School Administrators.

Many parents are spending less on back-to-school clothes, shoes and backpacks, according to a survey last month by consulting group Deloitte.

That's just one way parents are pitching in to save costs.

• Last year in Michigan, schools started asking parents to drive or carpool to sports games on the weekend.

• In Waterford, Conn., parents are shelling out cash for annual field trips and almost half the schools in the school administrators' survey said they are canceling field trips altogether.

• In Jacksonville, Fla., school lunch prices will rise 70 cents, due to rising fuel and food prices.

• Some schools in Alabama aren't ordering new textbooks, and instead of having the school bus stop at each house, kids in fifth grade through 12th grade will have to walk to neighborhood bus stops.

• And although many school buses in South Carolina have been chugging along for a whopping 22 years, the district will spend $11 million on fuel, instead of on new buses. But that's better than California's Folsom Cordova district, which will have no high school buses at all this year.

• At Choctawhatchee High School and several other schools in Florida, schools will begin charging students $5 to use a locker next year. And they've doubled the price for student parking from $10 to $20 for this school year.

According to experts, until the economy improves, parents will have no choice but to adjust to the change.

Is the economy killing your kid's school--and what will you do to fight back?


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