School children will soon be feeling the pinch if Congress doesn't act within the next few days. As of March 1st, sequestration cuts will go into effect. $85 billion would be slashed, and education would be hit hard. Our Katie Gibas breaks down what it means for Central New York schools.
CENTRAL NEW YORK -- For school leaders, this is one of the hardest times of the year: budget season. But this year is even more difficult. That's because districts could lose millions of dollars if the federal sequestration cuts go into effect.
"I'm worried about it. It's fairly unclear what exactly that's going to mean in terms of where money's going to be," said Dr. Richard Johns, the Liverpool Superintendent.
Suzanne Slack, the Syracuse City School District CFO added, "We're waiting for the final legislative budget, we're waiting to hear about the sequestration and some additional grant funding applications that we have applied for. So until those things are resolved, we don't have a good solid number in revenue."
New York is slated to lose more than $40 million in funding for primary and secondary education and another $36 million in Education for Children with Disabilities funding. Together, that means more than one thousand teacher and aide jobs are at risk. The Syracuse City School District faces losing $1.6 million in grants and IDEA funds.
"A lot of this money is used to pay for staffing in the district, so it is possible that we would have additional staffing reductions," said Slack.
For Central New York districts, these sequester cuts would come on top of deep state reductions during the last several years. The Syracuse City School district has already lost more than one thousand jobs in the last five years. And the future for Central New York schools doesn't look much better.
"The real concerning part is those reductions are coming at time when there's an increase in mandates that are costing the school districts a lot of money," said Corliss Kaiser, the Fayetteville-Manlius Superintendent.
District officials say after years of broken promises of funding from both the state and federal levels, legislators need to reach a more permanent solution.
"Even if they do avert one of these, they've got to get a plan in Washington, D.C. We can't live from crisis to crisis to crisis. That's bad for everybody," said Dr. Johns. "They're playing games with people's lives, and they've got to stop doing it."
Now local school districts begin planning for the worst, while hoping for a decision before Friday.
Other educational programs that face cuts under the sequestration are head start and work study.
For more information on the sequester cuts, check out the link from the White House below.