Sequestration takes dollars from schools


While sequestration – the automatic across-the-board cuts to federal spending – took place on March 1, many people believe that the cuts will have little or no impact on anybody beyond those who hold federal government jobs.

They are, however, beginning to learn that it not true.

Local school districts, for example, get about eight percent of their budget from federal funds, mostly for special education and to support programs for those students who are academically at risk, primarily in reading and mathematics.

That money, already allocated for this year’s budget, is now in doubt.

According to the Albany Times-Union, a daily newspaper in the state’s capitol that regularly reports on political and fiscal affairs, both Oceanside and Island Park will lose much-needed funding because of the sequestration. That paper says that the information for its data base was provided by the New York State School Board Association.

The newspaper database indicates that federal funding for the Oceanside schools will be cut buy $78,500 and the Island Park schools by $16, 200, not an inconsiderable amount of funding given the fiscal problems already faced by both districts due to the tax cap and unfunded mandates.

Lou Frontario, the assistant superintendent for business for the Oceanside school system said this week that he had not heard of any cuts coming from the federal government for this year’s budget, but that Oceanside gets about $2 million in federal aid each year. He said that any cuts coming now for this year’s budget would cause problems.

“We use every dollar we get in federal funds to run programs, hire and pay people, buy materials and supplies,” Frontario said. “We have contracted for these good and services and have to pay for them. That money has to come from somewhere, and if the government cuts this years funding, then we would have to dig deeper into the general fund and find the extra money.”

“The programs provided by the federal government for special education and struggling students are important,” he said. “We would have to find another way to fund them.”