Donald J . Boyd, Hamil ton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, and James H. Wyckoff School districts are confronting difficult choices in the aftermath of the financial crisis. In prior recessions, districts often muddled through by imposing a combination of tax increases and expenditure cuts that avoided involuntary personnel reductions. Today, the financial imbalance in many school districts is so large that there is no alternative to teacher layoffs. In nearly all school districts, layoffs are currently determined by some version of teacher seniority. Yet, alternative approaches to personnel reductions may substantially reduce the harm to students from staff reductions relative to layoffs based on seniority.