- Paris Flash
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Local schools stand to lose more than half a million dollars if a deal is not reached in Congress to avert the so-called fiscal cliff before March 1.
Without that deal, a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts hits the federal budget next Friday. The amount is around 8.2 percent, or $85 billion. Nationwide, sequestration could cut education funding by more than $4 billion, according to Deann Lee the Paris Independent School District state and federal programs director.
“The main problem with sequestration is that’s across-the-board,” Lee said. “You can’t pick and choose which programs will be affected. The sword just cuts across the board.”
For PISD, that would mean a $340,435 hit:
“If this goes through, we would lose approximately $150,000,” said North Lamar ISD Superintendent James Dawson. “We have already developed a plan to cover the loss of funds.”
Chisum ISD stands to lose about $14,476: $11,638 from Title I; $2,027 from Title II; $476 from career and technology education; and $335 from Title III.
“This federal funding cut would definitely impact our budget,” said Chisum ISD Superintendent Diane Stegall. “To be prepared to ‘fall off the fiscal cliff’ — as they are referring to these cuts — we will put on our parachute to ensure that student services are not cut and hope that they make the right decision on the federal level.”
Congress probably will, Lee said. No one really wants to suffer the potential political consequences of such indiscriminate cuts, and just about all agree that something needs to be done.
“However, we also have the political side where do we cut spending or which programs do we preserve?“ she said. “The end result, I believe, will be they will come up with a compromise where the funds will be cut but not to the sequestration level.”
While Congress will likely reach some kind of compromise, they could still miss the March 1 deadline, Lee said. Which could mean some kind of temporary pain at the very least.
“Will services be affected?” she said. “I don’t see how it can be avoided.”
The cuts could mean larger class sizes, fewer courses offered, staff reductions and fewer offerings in intervention programs, summer school and after school programs.
In December, PISD and other school boards passed resolutions urging Congress and the administration to protect the educational funds.