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Spending restrictions and a depressed economy have forced Massachusetts' school districts to cut academic programs, staff sizes, and transportation services and to institute fees for extracurricular activities, according to a survey conducted by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

The severe cuts are a result of the adoption in 1980 of Proposition 2 1/2, which caps local spending, coupled with steady reductions in state aid to localities, the report says.

Budgets for the current school year were lower than last year's in 44 percent of the districts, while they were held to less than 4 percent increases in another 36 percent of the districts.

Districts that attempted to override Proposition 2 1/2 failed three out of five times.

More than 80 percent of the responding districts said they had cut academic programs, chiefly in music, physical education, industrial arts, home economics, reading, and guidance.

All but 6 percent said they had to reduce size of their professional staff between 1991 and 1992, and one in four districts said they were forced to reduce or eliminate transportation services.

Fifty-eight percent, or 210, of the state's school districts responded to the survey.

Vol. 11, Issue 25

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