School board lobbies Wash. on sequestration

While Congress may have punted until March 1 on some of the most severe aspects of the fiscal cliff, the Warren County School Board is still concerned whether its federal funding will be tossed over the edge.

The board of school directors unanimously approved a resolution that “urges Congress and the Administration to amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.”

The resolution, passed unanimously, will now be sent to President Obama and the members of Congress who represent Warren County.

At stake for the Warren County School District, according to the 2013-2014 preliminary budget, is $953,000 in Individuals with Disabilities Act funding and $1,358,436 in Title I funding which is geared toward “improving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

An additional $314,426 in Title II funding, intended to “increase student academic achievement through strategies such as improving teacher and principal quality and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in the classroom and highly qualified principals and assistant principals in schools,” also according to the U.S. Department of Education, is also at risk.

Within the Budget Control Act, the district claims that automatic cuts include “cuts to almost all federal programs including education,” the resolution states. “These across the board cuts, also known as sequestration, would impact education by a reduction in funds of 8.2 percent or more that could result in larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, possible four-day school-weeks, loss of extracurricular activities and teacher and staff lay-offs.”

Speaking specifically to Title I, II and IDEA, the resolution claims that schools across the country “would be impacted nationwide by an estimated $2.7 billion loss from just three programs alone Title I grants, IDEA special education state grants and Head Start – that serve a combined 30.7 million children.

“Federal funding for K-12 programs was already reduced by more than $835 million in Fiscal Year 2011,” the district said, “and state and local funding for education continues to be impacted by budget cuts and lower local property tax revenues,” leaving the district with “limited capacity to absorb further budget cuts from sequestration as (the) Warren County School District has already implemented cuts commensurate to state and local budget conditions.”

According to the Associated Press, the bipartisan deal approved earlier this month put off nearly $110 billion in automatic spending cuts. Unless Congress stops them by the March 1 deadline, reductions of about 8 or 9 percent will hit nearly all federal agencies.