School districts face ‘sequestration’ cuts - News - Mobile

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School districts face ‘sequestration’ cuts

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Despite the passage of school-related state propositions earlier this month, local school districts are still facing thousands in sequestration cuts.

This could include estimated millions nationwide in reduced federal funding for programs such as Title 1 grants and Career and Technical Education programs unless Congress intervenes in the coming month.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 includes a provision that would impose across-the-board budget trigger cuts, known as "sequestration," to nearly every federal program — including education — as of Jan. 2. Sequestration is a plan to cut about $1.2 trillion from the federal budget in an even split across the board among education, national defense and Social Security, according to the National School Board Association.

Sequestration would impact public education by cutting funds 8.2 percent or more and could result in larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, cutbacks in extracurricular student activities, teacher and staff layoffs, less access to intervention programs and the loss of instructional time, according to the Sacramento County Office of Education.

In Galt, where every school is a Title 1 school — which means there is a high number of low-income students — Director of Educational Services Robert Nacario said instructional leadership coaching, intervention programs, professional development and some services for English learners are in jeopardy.

Race to the Top funding could also be cut. The Galt Joint Union Elementary School District learned Monday that it is one of 61 semi-finalists competing for $400 million from that program.

Nacario said there is a general consensus that, similar to California's budget scenario earlier this year, the federal trigger cuts were put in place to force federal legislators to come to bipartisan agreement on a deficit reduction plan.

"There was talk at state meetings I have attended in the past year where state administrators were not expecting these cuts across the board to federal education programs to actually happen, but that the administration would act hastily after the election so these cuts would not happen," he said. "Unfortunately, in the absence of the resolution, the triggers are in place.

"There was also some discussion early on that the impact on California as a whole may not be as bad since the funding formula for these funds is based on census, particularly poverty, and there is more poverty in California now," he added. "Unfortunately, the same is true in many other states as well."

In total, states and local communities would lose $2.7 billion in federal funding for just three critical education programs alone — Title I, special education state grants and Head Start — that serve a combined 30.7 million children.

Nationwide, these cuts would force 46,349 employees to either lose their jobs or rely on cash-strapped states and localities to pick up their salaries instead, the National School Board Association reports.

"Most of the direct impact will be on entitlement programs," Jill Wynns, president of the California School Boards Association, said in a press release. "Education always suffers when entitlement programs are cut."

In California, Title I funding equals about $1.65 billion and sequestration will cut $138.6 million from the state's budget, according to the state association.

This will cause the loss of 1,920 education jobs and will serve 296,272 fewer students, with 506 fewer schools statewide receiving grant funds. Out of the $1.22 billion in special education grants, California will lose $99.4 million resulting in the loss of 1,199 jobs, according to the opposition.

Earlier this month, the Sacramento County Board of Education passed a resolution urging Congress to amend the Budget Control Act of 2011 to avoid a loss in federal funding and head off additional cuts to public education.

Without Congressional action, sequestration will mean automatic cuts for the next 10 years, with the first round of cuts taking place Jan. 2, 2013.

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