Oregon Budget May Cut Classes Short

This Jan. 30, 2009 file photo shows the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. An employee was shot Wednesday May 27, 2009 inside the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and died soon afterward, and a suspect was in custody, the casino's CEO said. AP Photo/Mel Evans, file

At Franklin High in Portland, Oregon, the state budget crisis has become all too real for Sandra Childs and her students.

"As a teacher I have to figure out what I'm not going to teach," says Childs.

With the state running out of money, as CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports, schools may be forced to close as much as a month early -- giving Oregon the shortest school year in the nation.

"The first thing I thought when I heard this was, 'Kids will be delighted,'" says Stephanie Tolonen, a junior at Franklin. "I was really happy when they said days were going to be cut."

But now her joy has turned to concern, particularly about next year: "What are we going to do for college?"

The budget cuts have been met by student protests as schools lay off teachers, drop after school sports and cancel weeks of classes across the state.

And as teachers get cut, classes are getting bigger.

The future may depend on Measure 28, an increase in state income taxes, being voted on Tuesday in Oregon.

The measure would bring in some $300 million, only a small patch for the state budget's $2 billion hole.

While the loss of funds for schools has stirred the most protest in Oregon, the budget cutting will go well beyond the classroom with a list of targets that is long and painful.

The State Police plan to layoff 135 troopers and close three crime labs. Many courts will be cut back to a four days week. Prosecutions for misdemeanors such as burglaries and drug possession may be halted for lack of funds.

Hundreds of heroin addicts will no longer get methadone treatment at free clinics.

"We know as many as 95 percent of them will return to a life of heroin use," says Tim Heartnet of CODA Inc., a treatment, recovery and prevention program with clinics in Portland and Eugene.

Back at Franklin High there's a feeling of betrayal.

"What I'm seeing now is the end of public education as I know it," says Lucas May.

For the state it's a budget crisis likely to pass when the economy improves, but many students fear their one opportunity for education is being sacrificed and now will be gone forever.
  • Jaime Holguin

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