School district officials across the state are wrestling with the fallout over a controversial new law that bars teacher layoffs for a year even amid deep financial uncertainty.

The law, passed at the last minute with no public debate as part of the budget package in late June, requires districts to maintain this year's level of teachers and programs in the upcoming 2011-12 school year. This means that even if funding drops, school boards and superintendents will be prevented from making mid-year cuts to campus programs.

The law also restricts fiscal oversight of district budgets by county offices of education, which have had that authority for two decades.

Education officials have denounced the law as a stunning blow to local budget control and said it could drive more districts into financial insolvency. More than 140 districts are in financial jeopardy, according to the state Education Department, after three years of