Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

March 7, 2013

Special ed grants are expected to take largest sequestration hit locally

By SHELLEY SMITH
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — With federal education grant cuts in effect earlier this month, the Barren County School District announced that they expect around a $248,994 to $310,743 cut, while the Glasgow Independent School District announced they expected a nearly $157,000 shortfall from last year’s budget.

Sequestration, the latest hit to educational spending, with amount of about $3 billion cut to federal education grants and possibly more than 49,000 teacher job losses nationwide, according to the National Education Association.

Sequestration is a provision of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the controversial “fiscal cliff” where the government attempted to control federal spending. The deadline was initially set for Jan. 1 but the decision was delayed to March 1. With the decision now in effect, there is better idea of the full scope of federal funded programs that will be affected. Education is one of the many programs to take a large hit.

In Kentucky alone, the National Education Association estimates sequestration will affect a variety of federal funding for special education, vocational studies, and other programs in the amount of more than $37 million. They expect the cuts to affect around 8,849 students and result in a potential of 827 educational job losses.

At Glasgow, Financial Director Sue Furlong said the largest grant affected will be Title I with the potential of $95,000 cut. She said this cut will most significantly affect the elementary and middle schools. The second largest grant affected will be the IDEA B, in the amount of possibly $38,000, which helps fund the school district’s special education program.

Glasgow Schools Superintendent Sean Howard said the federal funding cuts will “most definitely have an impact.” He said the staff will have to ban together and do what they’ve grown very accustomed to doing of working with less to educate students.

“We’re still held responsible for the same student (state) outcomes with less resources,” Howard said. “You just have to be creative.”

Howard said the most unsettling thing is that there is still a lot unknown about sequestration. They don’t know how long the cuts will last and whether more will be added later.

“It’s up in the air,” He said. “We’ve always prided ourselves at Glasgow for providing the means for students to be successful. We’re still committed to that, it’ll just be tougher.”

Barren County Schools, which has a larger student population, is experiencing similar cuts to Glasgow. BC Schools Director of Finance John Stith noted that Title I and IDEA B will also be their largest federal grants affected by the cuts.

He said the Title I funds are primarily allocated to the elementary schools, and the reduction in that grant will affect the elementary student population the most. IDEA B is used to help students with learning disabilities in grades K-12. He said a 10 percent cut will most likely relate to the equivalent of two teaching positions. Stith said this cut will affect the general fund, which will most likely have to pick up a portion of the cut in order to stay compliant with federal regulations regarding educating students with disabilities.

Barren County Schools Superintendent Bo Matthews said the federal funding, which is typically for low-income students and students with disabilities, the budget cuts will arguably impact the students that need the funding the most.

“This will have a negative impact on students and personnel,” he said.

 

Read the full report in Friday's print or e-edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.