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Public schools see paradox of lower funding, higher test scores
"We're seeing these huge class-size increases in a short period of time," Kirst said. "This has been entirely unanalyzed and undiscussed. We're plunging into the unknown."
Kirst said schools haven't yet experienced the full brunt of state spending cuts. California cut funding to K-12 schools by 14 percent between 2008 and 2010, according to data from EdSource, a nonprofit research group. School districts were able to soften the impact by spending down reserves and taking advantage of one-time federal stimulus money.
"This is the first year – 2011-12 – where most of the federal money is out of the system and most have drained their reserves," Kirst said.