By Alyson Klein on
School districts chafing under the across-the-board federal cuts known as sequestration are about to get a reprieve: The U.S. Senate gave final approval, on a vote of 64 to 36 Wednesday to a broad budget deal that would ward off the vast majority of the impending cuts to K-12 education spending—and nearly every other federal program—for the next two years.
The bipartisan deal, which was negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would set spending levels at roughly $1.021 trillion this budget year. The U.S. House of Representatives has already approved the measure, so now it’s headed to President Barack Obama’s desk, and he’s expected to sign it.
via Congress Approves Budget Deal That Puts Brakes on Sequestration – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
School districts and early-childhood education programs are one step closer to getting some relief from across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, which trimmed about 5 percent of federal K-12 spending this school year.
The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday approved 332-94 a plan that would roll back the majority of the cuts slated to hit most school districts during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. The agreement, which was written by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will now proceed to the U.S. Senate.
via U.S. House Votes to Roll Back Sequestration – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
School districts would get some relief from the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration under an agreement announced Tuesday by a bipartisan pair of House and Senate negotiators.
The plan would roll back most of the so-called sequester cuts for the next two years, leaving the door open for federal lawmakers to boost spending on disadvantaged children and students in special education.
via Budget Deal Could Offer School Districts Relief from Sequestration – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Sequestration—those 5 percent across-the-board cuts that hit school districts this year and are slated to be in place for a decade—has affected some districts and states harder than others. Part of the reason? Some states are much more dependent on federal funding than others.
So which states are the most vulnerable to federal cuts? AASA, the School Superintendents Association, took a look at that in a report released Thursday.
In the past, federal funding has only made up 8 percent or 9 percent of K-12 spending nationally, but it was a bit higher in 2011-12, because states were still recovering from the recession, explained Noelle Ellerson, the associate executive director for policy and advocacy at AASA, who crafted the report.
via Which States Are Most Vulnerable to K-12 Sequester Cuts? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
So if you were hoping to wake up to a deal that ends the government shutdown and raises the debt ceiling, you were sorely disappointed. Talks continue today. And, education advocates are worried that if the feds don’t deal with sequestration (those five percent, across-the-board cuts) this fall, the window may be closed for a long time (story here).
A recent proposal by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, would keep the sequestration cuts in place for another six months, but would give agencies flexibility to decide where to make the reductions. Although the Collins proposal has run into trouble, particularly among Democrats who are upset about the fact that it would lock the cuts in place for another six months, the idea could pop up again as talks remain fluid.
via Should Arne Duncan Decide How to Distribute the Sequester Cuts? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
As Congress struggles to pass a budget stopgap measure, advocates are stepping up their fight against sequestration—the series of across-the-board cuts to federal programs that hit last March and are slated to stay in place for a decade unless Brokedown Congress acts.
The districts hardest hit by these cuts? The roughly 1,200 that receive federal Impact Aid. Those are typically districts that lose out on tax revenue thanks to a federal presence, such as a nearby military base or Native American reservation.
via Sequestration Cuts Sting, Say Impact Aid Districts – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Here we go again: Brokedown Congress is gearing up for its umpteenth game of fiscal chicken, as lawmakers have to craft not one, but likely three separate budget agreements over the next several months to keep the federal government from shuttering.
And yet again, education programs—which have already taken a more-than 5 percent hit through “sequestration“—are caught in the crosshairs.
via Will Congress Get Rid of Sequestration? Don’t Hold Your Breath. – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Michele McNeil
Perhaps the cuts weren’t quite as bad as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan predicted, but sequestration is still hitting classrooms as districts begin the 2013-14 school year.
According to a new survey from the American Association of School Administrators, districts are dealing with automatic, across-the-board trigger cuts of federal education funding by slicing professional development (59 percent of districts), eliminating personnel (53 percent), increasing class size (48 percent), and deferring technology purchases (46 percent).
via Sequestration Effects: 59 Percent of Districts Cut Professional Development – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Back in February, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and warned that school districts could be forced to cut 40,000 teacher jobs, thanks to a series of across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
At the time, Duncan got his head handed to him by the national media, including the White House press corps. Reporters pointed out that there were no massive layoffs in the offing—and the department explained that school districts typically don’t begin their budgets for the next school year until the spring. The cuts, which were slated to hit at the start of the next school year, would likely be bad for districts, the administration argued, but February was too early to know the full impact on K-12 education.
via Arne Duncan: Fewer Layoffs Than Expected, But Sequestration Still ‘Heartbreaking’ – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
As Congress shifts into budget season, education advocates are getting ready to renew their push to fight the across-the-board cuts to federal K-12 programs, better known inside the Beltway as “sequestration.” But to make their case, education organizations will likely have to hand lawmakers examples of how the cuts are actually hurting school districts.
That may be easier said than done.
via How Did Sequestration Impact K-12 Schools? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
It’s been almost five months since Congress slashed education spending through across-the-board cuts known as “sequestration,” which were intended to force a still completely elusive, long-term bipartisan budget deficit-reduction deal.
The school districts that became the poster children for these cuts? The ones that get money from the $1.2 billion Impact Aid program, which helps districts that have a big federal presence (such as a military base or an American Indian reservation nearby) make up for lost tax revenue. About 1,200 districts receive those funds, and a small handful rely on them heavily.
via Federal Cuts Force Impact-Aid Districts to Cut Staff, Close Schools – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
As expected, Travis Unified School District will feel a budgetary pinch between now and September as the U.S. Department of Education sets into motion some $60 million in automatic spending cuts for school districts near military bases and other federal lands.
The 5,000-student district will see a roughly 5 percent cut, or about $150,000, in its annual impact aid of nearly $3 million.
via Travis Unified School District bracing for cuts.
As the federal sequestration budget cuts kick in, Head Start providers across California are struggling to decide how to absorb the shortfall without hurting children.
For most programs, it boils down to a question of whether to cut school days or serve fewer children.
“It’s kind of like a ‘Sophie’s Choice,’” said Rick Mockler, the executive director of the California Head Start Association. “Do you diminish everyone’s education a little bit (by cutting days) or do you cut out some children altogether?”
via Head Start programs across the state cut services, children – by Lillian Mongeau.
So now that school districts are coping with a 5 percent across-the-board cut to all federal programs, thanks to sequestration, many advocates are asking the department for what they see as the next best thing to more money: Greater flexibility with the funds they actually have.
For instance, advocates are wondering how the cuts will affect maintenance of effort, which requires states and districts to keep their own spending up at a certain level in order to tap federal funds. Do they get a break because they’re getting less Title I and special education money?
via Will Funding Flexibility for Schools Come With Sequestration Cuts?.
By Susan Frey and John Fensterwald
Districts have issued dramatically fewer preliminary layoff notices to teachers this year, signaling an end to five years of high budgetary anxiety and providing one of the first concrete examples of the immediate benefits of Proposition 30.
Reports are still trickling in, but the number could be as low as 2,600 notices statewide – down 87 percent from the 20,000 “pink slips” issued last year and just a fraction of the 26,000 notices issued in 2010, the peak during the recession, according to the California Teachers Association, which tracks the numbers.
via Dramatic dip in ‘pink slips’ given to teachers – by Susan Frey and John Fensterwald.
Congress has a couple chances to reverse those automatic, across-the-board education cuts, known as sequestration, and the first would be in the current-year budget, which must be finalized by March 27 to avoid a government shutdown.
So far it’s not looking good for folks who’d like to see the cuts reversed, although U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is hoping to make the cuts a little easier to cope with.
via Harkin Hopes to Help Ease Pain of Automatic Cuts on Schools.
With sequestration cuts about to take place, Head Start faces a devastating loss in federal support. If this defunding becomes permanent, it would result in the needless destruction of an important component of early education for low-income families — and one of our most effective investments in improving the future lives of children.
In the zeal to promote President Obama’s new proposal for universal access to high-quality preschool, the Head Start program has been unfairly maligned. Both proponents and opponents of the president’s plan have been quick to criticize Head Start — calling it a “dud”and “lousy”. And now, as the post-sequestration budget wrangling begins, there’s a very real chance Head Start could be headed for the guillotine, even though the dismissive rhetoric about the program doesn’t fit the facts.
via The Case for Saving Head Start.
The Council For Exceptional Children, which represents educators who work with students with disabilities, recently published a list of issues it would like Congress to tackle.
There’s no lack of big-picture action items on this list, including full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Act. (When IDEA was first passed in 1975, Congress was authorized to spend up to 40 percent of the cost of teaching students with disabilities. But the federal government has never come close, and currently pays around 16.5 percent to the states, a figure expected to drop if sequestration cuts take hold.)
via Special Education Advocates Release Public Policy Agenda.
So now that the sequester has happened, is Congress doing anything to reverse the cuts? So far, it’s not looking great.
First off, on Monday Republicans on the committee that controls spending legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives released their version of a giant spending bill to keep the U.S. government—including the U.S. Department of Education—in business for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.
via Is Sequestration the New Normal for Federal K-12 Aid?.
U.S.Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has come under fire for the way he’s described the impact of sequestration at the school-district level—particularly for his comment on CBS’ Face the Nation, in which he said that “pink slips” were already going out and that 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. (Job reductions are possible, but it will really depend on local implementation.) That estimate earned him a rebuke from key Republican senators, in a letter sent to Duncan last week.
via Arne Duncan’s Latest on How Sequestration Will Squeeze Schools.