Federal aid to local schools for special education and impoverished kids takes hit in sequester

Jul 3, 2013 by

budget cutsLocal educators trying to prepare their budgets for the coming year saw their jobs get a little harder for a second day Monday as the state announced federal-funding cutbacks.

The Ohio Department of Education said federal “sequester” funding cuts will reduce statewide subsidies for special education and other programs by almost $66 million. Then the state said it would replace some of those funds with $19 million from grant money unused by community schools in previous years. That means the total cuts will be about $47 million, but state officials could not say how they will be divvied up among Ohio’s school districts.

No date was given for when the final figures will be available.

Thirteen of Summit County’s 17 school districts would experience about $1.1 million in reductions in one program alone: Title I, which supports special education, according to state estimates.

The reductions come as a result of Congress not being able to pass a deficit reduction plan.

Monday’s announcement came a day after Gov. John Kasich signed a two-year budget that many districts, especially public schools, considered a disappointment.

Many details in the 5,300-page budget that included school funding were not worked out until last week. The measure was passed on Friday. While it provided some increases to schools, the state has not restored cuts that were made in 2011.

State board of education officials could not say Monday if state legislators were even made aware of the impending federal cuts when they were making their budget decisions.

Jack Pierson, Akron schools treasurer, said the district will be cut $819,000 for special education, a 5.6 percent cut, and $135,000 for services to impoverished children.

“This is early in the game,” Pierson said. “It’s not a good situation but it’s not something that caught us by surprise.”

He said the Akron school board will have until September to adjust its budget. He could not say if staffing cuts will be needed.

Coventry’s special education funding was reduced 7.49 percent or $29,213 and another $20,000 for poverty programs.

Russell Chaboudy, Coventry superintendent, said the state gave him estimates of the cuts, but no final figures.

“We’ve been preparing,” he said. “We knew something was going to happen. We didn’t know the exact amounts so we were somewhat prepared, as prepared as you can expect to be.”

He hopes to avoid laying anyone off.

“I think we’re going to address it by combining some areas,” he said. “Every cut hurts but I think that … we will absorb it and do as best we can.”

Much of the funding cuts involve special education students who are on individual education plans (IEPs) that specify services that must be provided. State education officials told reporters in a conference call Monday that the local school districts, not the state, will be responsible for meeting those requirements, even if it means they must make cuts in other areas.

via Federal aid to local schools for special education and impoverished kids takes hit in sequester – Local – Ohio.

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