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Federal Sequestration Could Mean Loss of Special Education Funds for Chelsea Schools

Automatic federal spending cuts will happen March 1 if Congress does not reach an agreement before that time.

Federal funding for Michigan’s public schools—including Chelsea—could see major cuts should Congress fail to halt $85 billion in "sequestration" spending cuts scheduled to take hold March 1, according to a statement released Sunday by the White House.

In Michigan, the cuts would result in a loss of $22 million in funding for schools this year, which the White House estimates would “put around 300 teacher and aid jobs at risk.” It would also cut $20.3 million in funding for special education programs.

Teresa Zigman, executive director of business and operations at Chelsea Schools said cuts to special education funding for Chelsea would result in a loss of $500,000.

"We don't have a large high-risk population of students, so we don't receive as much federal funding other school districts in Washtenaw County might be eligible for," Zigman said.

The White House on Sunday released a state-by-state breakdown of the impacts of impending spending cuts, urging Congress to consider tax hikes for the nation's wealthiest citizens in order to balance out spending cuts.

"Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe," the White House statement reads. "By not asking the wealthy to pay a little more, Republicans are forcing our children, seniors, troops, military families and the entire middle class to bear the burden of deficit reduction."

The losses in education funding are just part of the impact that President Barack Obama said the cuts would have on Michigan jobs, services and health care.

In Michigan, they include:

  • Loss of $22 million in funding for primary and secondary education
  • Loss of $20.3 million in funds for about 240 teachers, aides and staff who work with children with disabilities
  • Fewer financial aid packages for nearly 2,500 students, and less work-study jobs
  • The elimination of Head Start and Early Head Start services for 2,300 children
  • A loss of $5.9 million in environmental funding, plus $1.5 million in grants for wildlife protection
  • The furlough of 10,000 civilian Department of Defense employees and loss of $14 million in army base operation funding
  • Loss of $482,000 in Justice Assistance Grants for local law enforcement agencies
  • Loss of $1.7 million in funding for job search assistance
  • Loss of access to childcare for as many as 900 children
  • Reduced funding of $301,000 for childhood vaccines
  • Loss of $944,000 in funds for public health planning efforts, as well as $2.9 million in grants for substance abuse treatment, and $315,000 in funding for the Michgian Department of Community Health
  • Loss of up to $209,000 in funds for domestic violence victim services
  • Loss of $1.8 million in funds for meals for seniors.

The total federal spending cuts would be about $1.2 trillion over the next nine years.

Republicans have accused the president of using the impending cuts for political gain.

Thomas D. Kessler February 28, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Please put a date and timestamp on all stories to validate whether article is old, current or new.
Daniel Lai February 28, 2013 at 02:39 AM
The story was published at 6 a.m. Feb. 27, 2013.

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