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British school debt soared to $212 million

Jan. 29, 2006 at 4:27 PM

LONDON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- British government statistics show the total debt for 1,866 public schools nationwide was more than $212 million last year.

The list of schools in debt, compiled by the Department for Education, runs to 32 pages and ranges from nursery schools to large high schools, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The high schools rang up the lion's share of debt -- $151 million. The top 10 high schools for debt had a combined total debt of $1.5 million.

The numbers produced fears that not enough teachers could be hired -- leading to overly high teacher/student ratios and four-day school weeks.

A spokesman for the federal government said balancing budgets was the responsibility of government on the local level.

However, David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, said the debt stems from unfunded federal mandates and school principals not being able to spend funds as they see fit.

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