Looming sequester would harm local schools
by Mark Andrews
Feb 26, 2013 | 2141 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The White House is predicting Georgia would lose about $28.6 million in funding for primary and secondary schools, and about 390 teacher and aid jobs would be at risk in the case of a sequester, expected if Congress fails to act by Friday.

Out of the announced $1.2 trillion in cuts across the nation, Georgia would see about $85 billion in automatic budget cuts slated to take effect March to September. The White House compiled the numbers from federal agencies and its own budget office.

“We have been anticipating some cuts to our federal programs. At this time, we have only seen the totals for the state as a whole,” Cartersville City Schools Finance Director Richard Dyke said. “We do not have plans to cut the programs this fiscal year but will be looking at each of the programs for next fiscal year once we receive the actual amount of decrease.”

Bartow County Superintendent John Harper said the system will work to balance its budget regardless of a sequester.

“We will certainly hope that our teachers are not effected by this reduction in 2 percent of the national budget,” Harper said. “However, if the reduction does happen, we will take the necessary steps to balance our budget.”

As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House did not have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.

Post-secondary institutions also would be affected, with a projected 2,490 fewer low-income students expected to receive financial aid and 890 less students having access to work-study jobs.

Dana Davis, director of college relations for Georgia Highlands College, reported about 80 percent of GHC students receive some form of financial aid for school. She said there currently are 47 federal work-study positions within the college.

For Chattahoochee Technical College, there are 54 students currently in federal in work study positions on campus. “These students must be full-time and eligible for Pell Grant Funding ... and do not currently hold a degree,” CTC Specialist for Public Relations Rebecca Long said. “As most of the students at CTC are working adults, few are interested in part-time positions on campus, as they must pay for their families, bills, educational expenses, etc.”

She said 5,631 CTC students currently receive federal financial aid.

Other projections include:

• Head Start: Services would be eliminated for about 1,700 children.

• Environment: Georgia would lose $3.5 million to ensure clean water and air and nearly $1 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

• Military: About 37,000 civilians working for the military would be furloughed and lose $190 million in pay. Funding for Army and Air Force operations would be cut $238 million.

• Jobs: About 33,160 fewer people would get assistance in finding jobs due to the loss of $873,000.

• Child care: Up to 1,100 children would lose access to child care.

• Vaccines: About 4,180 fewer children would get vaccinations for measles, mumps and other illnesses due to a funding cut of $286,000.

• Public health: About 2,400 fewer people would be admitted to substance abuse programs and 14,300 fewer HIV tests would be performed due to a $4 million cut in public health funding.

• Seniors: Funding for meals for seniors would be cut about $1.3 million.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article