Sequestration Could Cost Local Schools Big Money

School districts in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding. Budget cuts across the board take effect Friday if Congress cannot reach an agreement.

“I’m a single mom and my son has special needs and they’re not doing enough I don’t think,” said Melinda Green, a parent.

Green has a child enrolled in special education classes in Fort Smith. The budget cuts that take effect Friday will affect underprivileged and special needs students across the country.

“Congress needs to step up and deal with it and time’s running out,” said Benny Gooden, Ed.D, Superintendent of Schools at Fort Smith Public Schools.

Gooden estimates the district will lose between $600,000 and $700,000 in the initial round of cuts. “It would be unrealistic to say that schools will be able to avoid cutting people because the biggest part of our budget is in personnel,” he said.

Springdale Public Schools estimate they will lose close to $700,000 in federal funding.

Rogers Public Schools say they will lose about $500,000 in federal funding.

Fayetteville Public Schools estimate they will lose close to $250,000 in federal funding.

School districts say if the cuts go through it would not affect their budgets until the 2013-2014 school year.

Congressmen cannot agree on how to reduce the nation’s debt.

“We’re overspending way too much,” said Shelly Gilker. “We should not be spending money that we don’t have in our government, but I hate for people to be losing their jobs and I do think there’s a lot of other places they could cut.”

Parents say students need the funding. “They’re our future and if they don’t do something and they take the budget what’s gonna happen in the future,” said Green.

Gooden encouraged parents to contact their congressmen.

Some of the local school districts say they have started preparing to find other resources if the funding cuts go through.

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