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Examiner
  • Head Start, IDEA most heavily affected by budget cuts

  • Automatic federal funding cuts could mean fewer slots available for Head Start and early education.



    Independence Deputy Superintendent Dale Herl said the effect on the Independence School District and others throughout the country is “huge.” Missouri could lose almost $23 million in education funding. The cuts would primarily affect what are called “entitlement programs.”

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  • Automatic federal funding cuts could mean fewer slots available for Head Start and early education.
    Independence Deputy Superintendent Dale Herl said the effect on the Independence School District and others throughout the country is “huge.” Missouri could lose almost $23 million in education funding. The cuts would primarily affect what are called “entitlement programs.” These are programs such as Title I, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Head Start, among others. For Independence, it means an estimated loss of $740,000 per year in federal funding.
    However, under the "sequestration" plan, the cuts to public schools would not take effect until the 2013-14 school year. What would be impacted immediately is the Federal Impact Aid program, which provides federal funding to districts near federal land such as military bases. The two closest bases to Eastern Jackson County are Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Mo., but no local school districts receive money from the impact aid program.
    Herl said the greatest impact locally will be on Head Start. Head Start provides education, health, nutrition and parent-involvement services to low-income children before they enter kindergarten. The National Head Start Association estimates that more than 200,000 children would be lost from the early education program if cuts take affect.
    “The effect on schools is huge,” Herl said. “We are allocated money on a per child basis. My guess is that they will reduce the number of slots or the school district would get less money per slot. That would still mean less children could enter the program.”
    Cuts to the IDEA program, which helps special education students, would push the federal contribution back to its 2005 level. Such a sharp reduction in funds, more than $1 billion, would force school districts to make tough decisions. This could mean reducing services or supplementing the shortfall with local funds. Teachers could also lose their jobs as a result of the federal cuts.
    Herl said what is frustrating is that this is the second time in three months school districts and other entities have had to make plans for federal cuts as a result of sequestration. The original deadline for sequestration was Dec. 31, but Congress voted on an extension at the last minute. He said school districts started planning for the cuts last year, but right now, it is almost a “wait and see” process as district officials wait to see what the cuts are and when they will officially take effect.
    “We have done this twice now. We don’t want to see the cuts, but we need to have more information on what will happen,” he said. “To me it’s sad that they are using money earmarked for the good of kids as a bargaining chip.”
     
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