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Federal cuts could impact school budgets


'Sequestration' set for March 1



March 05, 2013
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - On the eve of the March 1 "sequester" deadline, the Fulton School System was making no special accommodations for any cuts in federal funding for education in the current fiscal year. However, the impact of federal reductions could be felt in next year's school budget.

"Fulton County Schools will see no financial impact on March 1, but anticipates a change in some federal funding received for next school year [if sequestration does occur]," said Susan Hale, a spokeswoman for Fulton Schools. "[Federal reductions have] been anticipated and any proposed cuts to personnel or services funded by federal funding will be considered during the FY2014 budget planning process."

The FY2014 budget is currently under development and will go into effect on July 1.

Federal funding for the Fulton School System is a small part of the system's $1.3 billion dollar budget; comprising less than seven percent of the overall system budget. Federal funds are felt even less in the school's system's operating budget – the funds used in direct pupil instruction –making up less than one percent of the $800 million budget.

What is 'sequestration'?

Sequestration refers to the procedure put in place in 1985 to limit the U.S. Congress' ability to appropriate funds above the debt limits Congress puts in place. Under sequestration, an amount of money equal to the difference between the cap set in the budget and the amount actually appropriated is "sequestered" by the Treasury, and not handed over to the agencies to which it was originally appropriated by Congress. Until now, sequestration has never occurred, as Congress simply raises the spending cap.
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However, federal funds are the primary source for several special programs that are funded nearly in whole by the $72 million received this year from the federal government. Those special programs include:

Title 1 – Funds used by school districts to help disadvantaged children meet higher standards. In Fulton County, 56 of the system's 104 schools receive Title 1 funds, benefiting nearly 31,000 students.

Title II: Funds are used to advance teacher quality through professional learning, preparation, recruitment and retention as well as upgrading teachers' skills in science and math.

Title III: Funds are used to provide supplemental services to students who have English as a second language.

In addition, federal funding supplements state and local revenue for the Special Education program. This year federal funds for special education totaled $16 million.

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