DPS feeling sequester impact
Add sequestration to the budget pressures starting to be felt by Durham Public Schools.
The across-the-board cuts mandated by the failure to reach a budget agreement in Washington could cost the district $1.7 million during the next fiscal year, Superintendent Eric Becoats said at a media briefing Tuesday.
“It’s just something we’ll have to deal with,” the superintendent said.
The lost federal funding will contribute to an overall projected $12 million budgetary shortfall for the school system. The superintendent said he’s been meeting with his budgetary advisory group to figure out solutions on “how to fill the gap.”
Those solutions may include, he said, central office budget reductions and a request to the county for additional funding.
The cuts mandated by sequestration will mainly affect Title 1 funding, DPS officials said. Title 1 is the largest federally funded education program and provides financial assistance to local school systems and schools with high percentages of poor children.
Heidi Carter, the chair of the school board, said that means the cuts will have a disproportionate impact on Durham schools.
“We have such a large percentage of disadvantaged students,” Carter said. “More than 60 percent of our students are on free-and-reduced lunch.”
The federal reductions also mean that there will be less money for career and technical education and for limited English proficiency and English as a second language programs, said Paul LeSieur, the district’s executive director of budget and management services.
“There will also be a reduction in teacher quality funds, money that’s used for staff development,” he said. “All in all, they’ll have to be cutbacks in programs that have been working for us over the years.”
Carter said she was particularly concerned with reductions in funding for career and technical education.
“We’re really trying to strengthen that program, and this makes that very difficult.” she said.
The district doesn’t currently know precisely where the funding will be reduced and what programs will be hit. “We won’t know exactly how it’s going to affect us until we find out the real numbers,” LeSieur said. “But it’s definitely a blow to us.”
The biggest blow, Becoats suggested, will be “felt down the road — but [the sequestration] will definitely have an impact on us in the 2013-14 fiscal year.”