In 2011, per-pupil spending fell for the first time in 40 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and officials say that education funding is more volatile than ever. As a result, school districts are adjusting to a new reality and in many cases doing more with less. "We are at a place where mind-sets are definitely changing, which has to precede big change," said Karen Hawley Miles, the president and executive director of Education Resource Strategies. "But this is a fragile step forward. We're at a very vulnerable moment."

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