Ohio

Eye on Education

What the Sequester Likely Means for Ohio Schools

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Remember the sequester, the fiscal cliff, the federal pit of funding doom? It was all over the headlines at the end of last year, before lawmakers came to a last-minute deal putting off the impending cuts by a couple more months.

Basically, the sequester is a set of across the board cuts in federal funding, put in place because lawmakers failed to agree on a federal budget last year.

But this time around it seems there’s no last minute deal to be had. Republican House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama could not come to terms, and that means the across the board funding cuts will go into place.

That includes a 5.3 percent reduction to education programs. According to the White House, that would break down to about $25.1 million in Ohio school funding.

But most schools won’t feel the effect of those cuts immediately.

Here’s more from the White House fact sheet:

  • Teachers and Schools: Ohio will lose approximately $25.1 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 350 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 34,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 100 fewer schools would receive funding.
    • Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Ohio will lose approximately $22 million in funds for about 270 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

But since most federal funding for schools is “forward-funded,” or dolled out for the entire school year, and most schools budget for the entire school year, the bulk of the cuts to education funding wouldn’t be felt until August or September.

Still, as EdWeek reports some areas of school funding would take an immediate hit:

Among the hardest hit would be those in the Impact Aid program, which services some 1,200 districts nationwide. Most impact-aid districts have a lot of Native American students, students whose parents work on military bases, or have federal land near the district. Their next federal payment, likely due out in April, would likely be smaller.

But even those cuts probably won’t mean immediate layoffs or reductions in services since schools have had plenty of time to prepare for the impending cuts.

Things look a bit better for higher ed, since many student loan programs and Pell Grants are exempt from the budget cuts. Work study grants and some other aid programs for college students are not exempt, but even those cuts wouldn’t be felt until the summer when student aid is distributed.

Cuts to research funding may have a significant effect on colleges and universities, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

Universities’ research leaders have estimated that federal research spending will be trimmed by more than $12-billion in 2013, and by nearly $95-billion over the next nine years, which they say the economy cannot afford. ScienceWorksforU.S., an awareness project formed by several national university organizations, projected a minimum $203-billion reduction in the country’s gross domestic product over the next nine years, and 200,000 fewer jobs per year from 2013 to 2016.

The silver lining? According to the Wall Street Journal, Ohio – in general – will be among the states least affected by the sequester.

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