State Schools in Race for Last Place in US

SACRAMENTO -- California's top education official says the state's school system is in a precarious state and that more spending cuts will have devastating effects.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said that California is on track to be 50th in the nation in per-pupil spending. O'Connell gave his annual state of education address Tuesday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders considered cutting billions of dollars to public schools. The state faces a $42 billion deficit through June 2010.

Education interest groups are at odds over what to cut.

Schwarzenegger wants to give school districts spending flexibility. The state's largest teachers union said that could mean larger classes and fewer teachers.

Democrats want to suspend laws requiring schools to buy updated textbooks and make repairs.

Two board members of the San Diego Unified School District traveled to Washington this week to lobby legislators to pass the stimulus bill making its way through Congress, hoping it would bring money to local schools that are set to face the budget ax.

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