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Federal Sequestration Could Mean Loss of Funds for Royal Oak Schools

Automatic federal spending cuts will happen March 1 if Congress does not reach an agreement before that time.

Federal funding for Michigan’s public schools—including Royal Oak—could see cuts should Congress fail to halt $85 billion in "sequestration" spending cuts scheduled to take hold March 1, according to a statement released Sunday by the White House.

In Michigan, the cuts would result in a loss of $22 million in funding for schools this year. It would also cut $20.3 million in funding for special education programs.

"As a district, Royal Oak receives a relatively small percentage of its overall budget from federal sources," said Supt. Shawn Lewis-Lakin. "Federal funds are restricted and provide revenue to support specific programs. The specific programs funded with federal revenue could be significantly impacted."

Impact on education

In Royal Oak, federal dollars account for 3 percent of the district's $54.3 million 2012-13 budget. Sequestration could affect the following programs:

  • IDEA gets about $928,000 in federal funding and provides supplemental resources for our special education department.
  • Title I gets about $462,000 in federal funding and provides supplemental instructional opportunities and resources in grades K-5.
  • Title II gets about $189,000 and provides professional development and training for all staff K-12.
  • Title III gets $32,000 in federal funding and provides supplemental teacher development and instructional resources for English as a Second Language programs.

Michigan programs in danger

The losses in education funding are just part of the impact. President Barack Obama said the cuts would affect Michigan jobs, services and health care.

The White House on Sunday released a state-by-state breakdown of the impacts of impending spending cuts, urging Congress to consider tax hikes for the nation's wealthiest citizens in order to balance out spending cuts.

"It only makes sense to ask people who are benefiting the most from our economy to do their part to sustain that economy," said State Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak). "If the sequester takes place, thousands of Michiganders will suffer immediately when they lose their jobs, student aid, Head Start instruction, meals for seniors, cops on the beat, teachers in the classroom and much more." 

In Michigan, cuts include:

  • Loss of $22 million in funding for primary and secondary education
  • Loss of $20.3 million in funds for about 240 teachers, aides and staff who work with children with disabilities
  • Fewer financial aid packages for nearly 2,500 students, and less work-study jobs
  • The elimination of Head Start and Early Head Start services for 2,300 children
  • A loss of $5.9 million in environmental funding, plus $1.5 million in grants for wildlife protection
  • The furlough of 10,000 civilian Department of Defense employees and loss of $14 million in army base operation funding
  • Loss of $482,000 in Justice Assistance Grants for local law enforcement agencies
  • Loss of $1.7 million in funding for job search assistance
  • Loss of access to childcare for as many as 900 children
  • Reduced funding of $301,000 for childhood vaccines
  • Loss of $944,000 in funds for public health planning efforts, as well as $2.9 million in grants for substance abuse treatment, and $315,000 in funding for the Michgian Department of Community Health
  • Loss of up to $209,000 in funds for domestic violence victim services
  • Loss of $1.8 million in funds for meals for seniors.

"All of us will feel the effects of these unnecessary and random cuts because we will live in a state that is poorer, less vibrant and less able to take care of people in need," Townsend said.

The total federal spending cuts would be about $1.2 trillion over the next nine years.

Republicans have accused the president of using the impending cuts for political gain.

Col. Duke Lacrosse February 27, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Everyone got a 2% pay decrease because of SS withholding at the beginning of the year. But now the world will end because the government will have less money because of the Sequester. Give me a break.
Bob February 27, 2013 at 07:42 PM
This so called sequester really amounts to a tiny cut of spending growth. Spending will actually continue to climb. In the wacky world of D.C., they call this a cut. For instance, 2014 budget calls for a 5% increases in funding. Congress later decides to change this to a 4% increase in funding. They then report to the masses that they cut spending by 20%.
Ed February 28, 2013 at 04:15 AM
if we were not so dependent on DC, thanks to the manipulated taxation this would be no problem. The realitynis that this budget issue is only a 2% cut. Let's stop the retoric. Give me a pen and the authority an I'll fix the problem since Congress can't seem to do it and has not presented a budget for 4 years.
Bob February 28, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Spending will go up with the sequester. This is only a small cut in spending growth. The House passed a budget, the Senate did not. The Senate is supposed to pass their bill and then the negotiation begins to rectify the two bills. This has not happened. Our President is intent on campaigning instead of working on problems. Campaigns are the telling of twisted half truths with no plan of your own before a specific setting and audience. This is an odd numbered year. He should be at work facing reality.

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