GREENVILLE, Wis. (AP) ¿ School Specialty Inc. said Thursday profit for the first quarter fell 15 percent on lower sales, the result of educator spending cuts.

The company, which makes pre-kindergarten learning products, reported net income of $28.4 million, or $1.51 per share, compared with $33.4 million, or $1.75 per share, a year ago.

The current quarter and the year-ago period included non-cash accounting charges which totaled 10 cents per share, and 9 cents per share, respectively.

Revenue fell 13 percent to $330.4 million from $378.8 million a year ago. The decrease was primarily due to reductions or delays in spending by many school districts, the company said. The largest drop was in the furniture and equipment category. It also included an expected $10 million reduction in science revenue.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for a higher profit of $1.72 per share.

The revenue decline seen over the past nine months is looking better as spending is beginning to pick up as educators replenish supplies, CEO David J. Vander Zanden said, in a statement.

Although the second quarter will continue to show year-over-year decline, the rate of decline should improve in the second half of the fiscal year, he said.

The company also is exceeding its $20 million cost reduction goal, he said.

School Specialty said it still expects 2010 revenue to range from $915 million to $940 million and adjusted earnings per share are expected to range from $1.92 to $2.12, excluding one-time costs.

Analysts expect a profit of $1.84 per share.

Shares rose 74 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $23.13 in afternoon trading.

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