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In the face of ongoing state budget problems, nearly three times as many K-12 districts have shortened the current school year than did so last year, according to a new survey released by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

The Analyst's Office found that almost 60 percent have reduced the school year in 2010-11, compared to about 20 percent last year. The state has allowed districts to drop the school year from 180 days to 175 days, and many have saved money by furloughing teachers and shrinking the state calendar. About 30 percent of districts said they have gone all the way down to 175 days.

The report also found that average class sizes have grown significantly since 2008-09, the peak year of school funding. Kindergarten through third grade classes have gone from roughly 20 students per room to 25 in 2010-11. Average class sizes for other grades have gone from roughly 28 to more than 31.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed deferring about $2.1 billion for K-12 schools in 2011-12, not paying them that money until 2012-13.

Districts in the past have dealt with $7.4 billion in deferrals by relying on reserves, as well as internal and external borrowing. But the Analyst's Office said that nearly half of districts would face difficulty absorbing Brown's latest deferral and would instead impose more program cuts.


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