Crane district on edge over fiscal cliff
If the federal government is not able to avert the fiscal cliff, automatic spending cuts will mean Crane Elementary School District will receive an estimated $200,000 less in funding for the 2013-2014 school year.
“That is a very deep cut,” said Crane Superintendent Robert Klee. “In the last four years” the Arizona Legislature has “cut about 21.8 percent of our education budget. You couple that with (sequestration), and we are probably not looking at a very rosy picture.”
That will make it difficult to implement Common Core Standards, new curriculum standards which by law must be in effect by 2014, Klee continued.
“There is no funding to follow it, so you just keep squeezing things tighter and tighter until a point now where it is becoming almost impossible to accomplish it all. We are still going to have to pursue them, but it is going to make it very tough.”
If sequestration takes effect, cuts will most likely be made in other areas of the budget to provide the funding necessary for the new curriculum.
“Unfortunately it is going to be some of those areas we have outlined – it may be personnel, it may be benefits, it may be programs for students,” Klee said. “We have eliminated so many of our elective and special programs for students just so that we can deliver the core stuff.”
Aware of the possible crisis, the Crane school board voted to adopt a resolution urging Congress to stop harmful budget cuts due to sequestration during a meeting Tuesday night.
Also during the meeting, the school board chose to delay the choice of a name for the new Crane charter school until January. They had been planning on naming the school the “Jon and Caroline Jessen Science Academy” but abandoned that idea at the request of the Jessens.
“Mr. Jessen contacted us and said even though he appreciated the honor, he just didn't feel right having the school named after him,” Klee said, noting the committee will now consider alternative names.
The school board also voted to continue the pursuit of solar energy projects at district campuses in the future, which will “save us a significant amount of money for utilities,” Klee said.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.