Desperate solutions to ease the budget crisis in Washington DC's education service include the axing of 300 jobs and shortening the school year by seven days.
A total of Pounds 20 million has been cut this year from the education budget, and more cuts are expected as the federal capital plunges further into debt.
So serious are the problems in the schools system that the Mayor, Marion Barry, has talked about asking Congress to give him control of the education budget.
The education system is run as a completely separate unit from other local services in the District of Columbia.
It is controlled by a board of elected members, and there is a marked lack of public confidence in its ability to put its house in order.
However, Washington schools are not alone in facing financial crises. Other American cities, including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles have faced desperate problems. Milwaukee, for instance, had to go on a four-and-a-half day school week last year.