Tribune-Courier News Editor
Cuts in federal funding from budget sequestration will deprive Marshall County Schools of an estimated $200,000 and leave other agencies scrambling to fill the void in their coffers.
Sequestration – reductions in the amount of growth of the federal budget – went into effect at midnight Friday.
Many leaders are unsure of the impact of the restrictions on federal funding of local programs and operations, but Jill Morris, financial officer for the county school district, provided specific projections.
Morris said the biggest blow will come to the school’s IDEA Basics program which would lose $86,000. IDEA Basics provides funding for many of the schools’ special education programs.
“The next biggest cut will come to our Title I programs,” Morris said. “Title I provides services for economically disadvantaged students.”
One program that will not be cut is the schools’ free and reduced-price lunch programs. Morris said funding for these programs came from federal programs not affected by sequestration.
Title II, which underwrites teacher and administrator training, will lose $18,000, Morris said. The Head Start pre-kindergarten program will see a $19,000 reduction.
Morris said the estimates are based on grant allocations for the current fiscal year. Grant amounts for the next school year have not been allocated. Sequestration affects the government’s ability to allocate funding this year.
“We’ll have to look at our budget and consider staffing. The sequestration is very serious,” Morris said. “There is a potential for layoffs and we will look at all options. We hope as the months go by, there will a resolution to the sequestration. For now, we are watching the situation closely.”
Judge-Executive Mike Miller said he does not know how sequestration will affect county government.
“We’re not going to know until all the cuts are made,” Miller said. “We’ll see what’s happening at the state level and what programs are reduced before we see it at the county.”
Miller acknowledged the hardest blow would be to education.
“I hope we know what is happening while we are working on our next budget,” Miller said. “We may be forced to think about layoffs when we see the final numbers.”
Sheriff Kevin Byars said his department receives federal grant funding for equipment and overtime enforcement. Next fiscal year he had hoped to receive a grant of $30,000 for body armor for his tactical team. Grant fund availability is uncertain within the limits imposed by sequestration.
“We’re keeping an eye on things,” Byars said. “Our current grant programs were a part of our last fiscal year, so they may not be affected. One program that could be affected is the Pennyrile Narcotic Task Force, but we’re not sure how.”