BOISE – Monday the Idaho Education Department released estimated numbers to local school districts, letting them know how much in federal dollars they will lose if the March 1st sequestration deadline hits.
Spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Education, Melissa McGrath said schools across the state will face 5.1 percent in federal cuts.
Staff had been crunching numbers late last week to hand out to the local districts by Monday using 2012 budget numbers.
The planned cuts were part of a deal Congress enacted through the Budget Control Act of 2011, which raised the debt ceiling to avoid default. Cuts will be applied to almost all federal programs if Congress can’t come to an agreement to replace sequestration.
McGrath said the larger districts would lose more, because naturally they get more federal funding due to higher enrollment. For example, a large school district like Meridian is set to lose $272,901 in funding for special programs. Smaller districts are estimated for less.
There is a silver lining, according to McGrath, the cuts won’t take effect until the 2013 school year, and so individual districts would have time to plan for these cuts, if the sequestration happens.
“It is going to look different in every school district across the state,” explained McGrath.
Although the cuts are geared toward Title 1 and IDEA programs, McGrath said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna will continue to encourage Congress to give states more flexibility when it comes to how the federal dollars are allocated.
“Some school districts may decide to implement furlough days," said McGrath. " Some school districts may decide we are going to do less funding for this program, because we want to do more funding here.”
Parents and tax payers are encouraged to take part in budget discussion if the sequestration takes effect. Local school boards will be holding budget meetings starting in the spring.
However McGrath reiterates all of this depends on if Congress can’t come to a decision by March 1st.
“I mean it could look different in any school district across the state we just don’t know at this point,” she said.
After March 1st the Idaho Education Department will send districts final numbers instead of estimates.