Print this Article

CSBA, NSBA Ramp Up Drive to Oppose Automatic "Fiscal Cliff" Federal Funding Cuts

November 29, 2012

Although most local educational agencies would not feel a direct impact until next fall, the California School Boards Association (CSBA) and other advocates for public education are urging governance teams to tell Congress to act now to avoid the automatic and devastating cuts to virtually every federal program under the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as sequestration.

Sequestration, which is part of the upcoming “fiscal cliff” — Beltway shorthand for the expiration of tax credits and those automatic, across-the-board cuts, including $4 billion for education — will go into effect Jan. 2 unless federal lawmakers and President Obama make a budget deal.

According to state-by-state impact profiles compiled by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), California would lose $387 million in federal education funds — nearly a tenth of the total cuts to national funding nationally — in addition to cuts amounting to 8.2 percent for all other federal programs the state receives funding for, including essential human health and social services that directly impact public school children and their families.

The bulk of the automatic cuts would hit at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, but the NSBA reports that cuts would limit the funding stream during the current school year for school districts receiving “Impact Aid,” which compensates for the presence of federally owned, tax-exempt properties and “federally connected” students, such as children of military personnel.

CSBA President Jill Wynns, a board member in the San Francisco Unified School District, said it would be tough for districts to absorb the federal cuts on top of already steep state and local reductions.

“This is not abstract, this is [not] about saving money. It’s disinvesting in our future,” Wynns said on an NSBA-sponsored conference call to reporters about the impact of the cuts.

NSBA has compiled an extensive “Stop Sequestration” toolkit of public information and advocacy resources complete with background information about the mechanics and potential impacts of the automatic cuts, to help governance teams convince their congressional representatives of the need for urgent action. CSBA has also issued an Action Alert on the issue, with links to NSBA’s sample letter to federal lawmakers, modified slightly to reflect California’s perspective.

More than 150 local boards throughout the country, including a number in California, have already gone on record with resolutions opposing the cuts. Sample board resolutions, opinion pieces and letters to the editor are also available in NSBA’s toolkit, along with a survey to let local education leaders specify the effects automatic cuts would have in their communities.

CSBA Legislative Advocate Erika Hoffman said local boards can make a difference.

“It is important that school board members make their voices heard through resolutions and contact with their congressional members in order to make the case as to why schools and districts will be unable to absorb the proposed sequestration cuts,” Hoffman said. “Board members need to talk with their superintendents, business officials and the public about what the local impact will be to students in such programs as Title I, special education and English learners.”

Source:  California School Boards Association