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Area School Districts Brace For Cuts In Federal Funding

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Sequestration will affect school districts around the country, including those in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Travis Ekmark: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sayholatotravis/3796435103/
Sequestration will affect school districts around the country, including those in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Sequestration budget cuts will soon begin to take effect in area school districts, and officials are preparing for leaner times.

Pete Weber oversees the approximately $800 million dollar budget for D.C. Public Schools. He says the school district is projecting cuts of $2 million because of sequestration. "It's not a huge percentage of our budget, but $2 million to schools can make a very, very big difference," he says.  

Weber says what helps is overall DCPS is seeing an increase in its budget because of multi-million dollar, multi-year federal grants. "DCPS is the recipient of the largest grant for Teacher Incentive Fund grant and a Headstart grant that also accounts for the overall increase in our budget," he says.

Fairfax County Public Schools will also see an approximately $2 million reduction because of sequestration. John Torre, the system's spokesperson, says that money is primarily coming from federal funding that would have gone to help students with disabilities and students whose parents live at Fort Belvoir.

"It's a relatively minimal impact on the overall budget, however it's still less federal dollars and that means those dollars needs to be made up by reductions elsewhere or those dollars need to be made up through state or local aid," he says.

Dana Tofig with Montgomery County Public Schools says they are expecting cuts of up to $6 million in federal funding. He says it's not a lot of money considering their budget is more than $2 billion, but officials there are more worried about how the broader impacts of sequestration could hurt local funding for education in the future.

"It could affect our residents who work for the federal government. And many businesses rely  on the federal government for contracts and work. And that could have an impact on our tax base," he says.

A survey conducted by the Council of Great City Schools found several large urban school districts across the country would be affected by sequestration. The 31 districts that responded said they were getting ready to reduce professional development for teachers, increase class sizes and cut programs such as pre-K and Saturday school.

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