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
Congress is back in town this week, but education legislation is likely to remain on the back burner in both chambers for the next month—and maybe even for the rest of the year. One major reason? Syria. Another big reason? The budget.
Lawmakers still need to figure out the spending bills for fiscal year 2014, including the bill that finances the U.S. Department of Education and other programs important for children (such as Head Start).
via What’s Next For Education in Congress – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Mike Corpos
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield-Suisun school board agreed on four main budget priorities Thursday for the 2013-14 school year, with a boost in employee compensation topping the list.
The decisions came after an extensive discussion during a budget workshop.
As each board member listed his or her priorities. Four topics rose to the top of the list. The board handed them off to the district administration to research and come back with dollar figures attached.
via Fairfield-Suisun school board sets budget priorities Daily Republic.
By John Fensterwald
With the passage of Proposition 30 and implementation of a new funding system channeling more money to most districts this fall, the 2012-13 school year will be the base for measuring how well schools recover from the Great Recession. Yet as EdSource documents in a report issued Thursday, there will be a steep climb out of the trough.
In “Recovering from the Recession: Pressures Ease on California’s Largest Districts, but Stresses Remain,” EdSource found signs that budgets were stabilizing and districts were regaining some ground after five years of damaging budget cuts. But there were also areas of further concern, such as a decline in the number of counselors in schools and a rise in rates of childhood poverty – evidence that districts continued to struggle, as measured by some key indices.
via Schools rising from budget depths, EdSource report finds | EdSource Today.
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.
Student enrollment rates in California’s community colleges have dropped to a 20-year low in the wake of unprecedented cuts in state funding. Colleges have reduced staff, cut courses, and increased class sizes—all of which have led to declines in student access.
This research was supported with funding from the Donald Bren Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, and The James Irvine Foundation.
via PUBLICATION: The Impact of Budget Cuts on California’s Community Colleges.
Continuous budget cuts have taken their toll on community colleges, resulting in a 20-year low in student enrollment, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California report.
Since the so-called Great Recession began in 2007, California’s community college system has sustained $1.5 billion in cuts, which has resulted in reductions in faculty and course offerings, according to the report, “The Impact of Budget Cuts on California’s Community Colleges.”
via Community college enrollment falling in California.
By John Fensterwald
Even though there are more potential students who should be served by community colleges, “funding shortfalls throughout the community college system have led to significant reductions in staff, considerably fewer course offerings, and severely restricted enrollment,” write the researchers of “Impact of Budget Cuts on the California Community Colleges,” which was released on Monday.
A decline of 24 percent in per-student funding over five years has led to a record decline in access to community colleges and has jeopardized the services to those students who are enrolled, an extensive study by the Public Policy Institute of California concluded.
via Budget cuts create unprecedented stress on community colleges – by John Fensterwald.
Donna Lass, Vallejo
This is the time of year when cities and counties start looking for ways to balance their budgets. Our Vallejo City Unified School District is no different. The very subject of “budget cuts” brings fear into the hearts of employees of every government entity, as well as the citizens who avail themselves of the services offered.
Sadly, some of the cuts considered include programs currently offered at the Vallejo Adult School. Most of the programs being targeted are those of particular interest to our senior citizens, such as the Stars Program, a two-day-a-week program offering day care for seniors with dementia and ambulatory disabilities. This is a much-needed program to help seniors with disabilities, as well as a means to offer respite for their caretakers (usually spouses of the participants who are themselves senior citizens).
via Save senior programs.
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.
By Keri Luiz, Assistant Editor
After saying goodbye to one of their own, Benicia Unified School District trustees voted last week to approve reductions in certificated (teaching) and classified (non-teaching) staff, and to change board elections from odd to even numbered years.
Trustee Dana Dean gave an emotional farewell in announcing her move to fill a vacant seat on the Solano County Board of Education. After determining that the board has 60 days to appoint a replacement, trustees handled another electoral matter by following the county board’s example and approving an election switch to even-numbered years.
via BUSD board OKs move to even-year elections, cuts to staff.
BENICIA — Citing falling enrollment, the Benicia school board on Thursday approved issue layoff notices to several teachers and classified employees.
“Benicia for the first time is in declining enrollment,” said Michael Gardner, assistant superintendent of human resources, as he presented the board with lists of positions to be cut.
The district initially estimated a loss of about 30 students this year.
via Benicia board to issue layoff notices.
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.
The blog IDEA Money Watch compiled information released by the U.S. Department of Education and created a nice chart that spells out how much each state stands to lose in federal funding for special education, should the sequester cuts stay in place.
States received about $11.5 billion in Part B funds for fiscal year 2012—Part B refers to the special education dollars that are used to educate students ages 5 to 21. The numbers in this chart assume a 5 percent reduction in funding for fiscal 2013. As explained in my colleague Alyson Klein’s excellent piece on frequently asked sequester questions, the sequester doesn’t mean that states will immediately start to feel the pinch, because the money has been “forward-funded.” Any budget impact would start to be felt more in the 2013-14 school year.
via IDEA Sequester Cuts, By The Numbers.
Today is the day that those automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that have been coming since August 2011 are finally set to kick in. And U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been a chief spokesman for the administration on the impact of the cuts on domestic programs—and landed in some pretty hot water with fact checkers.
Earlier this week, the White House put out job loss estimates, including for K-12 schools, and Duncan backed them up on Sunday’s political talk shows. However, it’s really too early to know exactly how many layoffs, furloughs, or programmatic cuts will result from sequestration (which would represent the largest cut to federal K-12 aid in recent history). School districts—not to mention states, and the federal government—are still hammering out their spending plans for this year. Schools don’t typically send out Reduction in Force (RIF) notices until March or April.
via Arne Duncan Stands Firm: Sequester Would Squeeze Schools.
FAIRFIELD — Automatic federal budget cuts could mean fewer jobs, fewer bus routes and cuts to student activities for Travis School District.
With more than a third of the students in the district coming from military families, the district relies heavily on federal funding for those 5,400 students. That equated to $2.8 million in what’s known as impact aid last year, according to a district report.
A 5.3 percent cut would equal a loss of $148,000 to the budget. That money would come from cutting jobs, activities and bus routes, according to the district.
via School districts prepare for less money.
The Vallejo school board will consider eliminating dozens of teaching positions Wednesday during the first major part of its annual budgeting process.
The Vallejo City Unified School District is proposing cutting the equivalent of more than 46 full-time positions, ranging from elementary school teachers to middle and high school science and special education teachers.
Certificated employees like teachers must be notified of possible layoffs by March 15. Last year, the board cut about 115 certificated positions as the district grappled for potentially deep cuts
via Vallejo School Board to consider layoffs.
By Donna Beth Weilenman, Staff Reporter
If the series of federal budget cuts called sequestration begins Friday, as expected, Benicia Unified School District could face a loss of $70,000 in federal funds, said Timothy Rahill, the district’s chief business official.
The district could lose as much as $15,000 in Title I funds alone, Rahill said. Title I funding is given to schools to improve the education of disadvantaged, low-income students.
“The Title I programs would cut back on supplementary items like books and instructional supplies, and possibly some instructional assistant time,” Rahill said.
via BUSD, others could feel sequester cut.
If Congress doesn’t act before Friday, officials from one local school district say its operations will face severe cuts on day one of the so-called federal sequestration and not just over time, as some analysts are predicting.
Sequestered cuts to the federal budget are set to take effect Friday and the White House said this past weekend that would include cuts to federal school “Impact Aid,” a program that helps school districts impacted by a federal presence by providing them an “in-lieu of tax” payment. In Solano County, Travis Unified School District relies heavily on federal impact aid to educate more than 5,400 students.
via Sequestered cuts would hit Travis Unified School District hard.