PICKENS COUNTY—Schools in Pickens County likely will not be feeling much of an impact from the Sequester, which aims to cut $82 billion in federal spending.
School District of Pickens County officials say some funding will likely be lost, but will only amount to less than one percent of the annual budget, which was nearly $99 million this year.
“The SDPC may lose approximately 450,000 (5.9% of our federal funds),” Pew said. “The managers of these federal funds have been aware of this possibility for a while and have made plans to lose some funds.”
Pew said Sequestration will have an impact, however.
“Sequestration will cause us to not be able to provide the same services that we have in the past,” Pew said. “For example, Title I funds are federal funds that are allocated to schools with a greater percentage of poverty. These schools will not be able to provide services to students in most need of assistance.”
SDPC Public Information Specialist John Eby said jobs are not in any kind of danger.
“Furloughs and things like that are not going to happen this year,” Eby said. “We create a buffer of protection around people’s jobs so that is the last thing that will be cut.”
What will be cut back are a few programs throughout the district, according to Eby.
“That money was designated for a number of purposes including Title I schools, Special Education, preschool, adult education, teaching English as a second language, and professional development,” Eby said. “However, our fund managers budgeted conservatively this year with the possibility of Sequestration in mind, so we do not expect a significant impact on programs or services this year.”
Although Title I will likely feel a blow of some kind, Eby said it likely will not result in any serious problems.
“Title I schools are schools with higher poverty and a higher percentage of kids that qualify for free and reduced lunch,” Eby said. “Those schools are eligible for special funds and extra funding from the federal government. We really don’t expect to see any impact on services this year.”
Planning for cuts next year will be difficult because of the uncertainty in Washington, Eby said.
“In terms of the next budget year, it’s too early to say what the sequester impact will be,” Eby said. “Congress could make a deal where we would get that money back, so it’s too early to think about.”
Eby said the district could face other budgetary problems in the months ahead, however.
“The situation we’re looking at for next year is that the cost of operations like healthcare, retirement and utilities are going up faster than our revenues are going up,” Eby said. “I’m sure that’s a problem for every agency in the county because we have the same tax base, but right now we’re not sure if sequestration will affect the next budget year.”