CA schools face loss of hundreds of millions from sequestration

Los Angeles Unified stands to lose $111 million next year if Congress and the White House fail to stand down the pending sequestration cuts set for January, according to analysis from the New America Foundation.

Set into motion by a budget agreement last year, the across-the-board rollback in federal spending would result in $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade, according to a report released last week by the administration's Office of Management and Budget.

Although Beltway insiders continue to maintain that Congress and the White House will find a way to delay or revise the mandatory cuts following the November election - the magnitude and suddenness of the cuts are increasingly hard to ignore.

Like other federal agencies, the U.S. Department of Education will endure a cut of 8.2 percent - a reduction that will have immediate impacts on local school districts.

Researchers from the New America Foundation, a think tank based in Washington D.C., took a closer look at how the numbers translate to the local level by measuring total federal revenue by local educational agency in the 2010 fiscal year and teasing out the 8.2 percent cut. (http://bit.ly/OCPr3i)

Clearly the biggest impact is on districts whose budgets rely on the big federal funding sources like Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

One district in South Dakota, for instance - Shannon County School District - received also 70 percent of its $18.1 million budget funding from federal programs because 98 percent of its students qualify for subsidized meal programs and 99 percent identify themselves as American Indian. Under the sequestration, Shannon County would lose about $1.5 million, according to the New America analysis, or 5.6 percent of its budget.

Closer to home, the Los Angeles County Office of Education serves nearly 9,000 students with severe special needs. If the January cuts are triggered, it would lose nearly $37 million or 3.6 percent of its annual revenue.

Orange Unified, San Diego, Long Beach, San Bernardino and Fresno would all be hit with cuts of more than $10 million. There are eight LEAs that would lose 3 percent or more of their budgets should the sequester go through, according to the New America data.

The research team noted that not all cuts will happen at the same time - reductions to Title I and IDEA will not take effect until next school year because the programs are mostly forward funded. But other programs like Impact Aid, they said, will be trimmed right away in January 2013.

Exempt from the sequester is funding for school nutrition programs.

To review the entire data base provided by the New America Foundation click here:

...read more