2 Yuma school districts face $1.1M in sequester cuts
The two largest school districts in the Yuma area are estimating that they could be down a combined $1.1 million if automatic federal budget cuts go into effect this week.
Yuma Union High School District is looking at about $750,000 in reductions and Yuma Elementary School District, about $377,000, their superintendents said Monday.
“$377,000 is considerable,” said District 1 Superintendent Darwin Stiffler.
Using a 5.3 percent guideline from a national superintendents' group, Stiffler made these specific projections:
• Programs for at-risk, underprivileged students: $241,445. At District 1, that could come out of academic interventions and after-school programming.
• Special education: $87,882. Stiffler said he didn't know where these cuts could be made, but did say that special education is “chronically underfunded.”
• Teacher professional development: $27,677 for training programs, such as the ones intended to transition teachers into the soon-to-come national Common Core standards.
• English language-learner programs: $20,336, possibly impacting summer school and testing.
Totaled, that's more than $377,000 for the district, mostly in direct student services.
“These programs are supposed to help those that are the most fragile,” Stiffler said.
Superintendent Toni Badone of Yuma Union High School District used 8 percent projections to figure her district's possible cuts.
“This is always a muddy crystal ball, obviously,” she said.
As with District 1, Badone expected cuts to heavily impact programs for low-income students. With no property tax override here to provide extra local funding, every federal dollar helps, she said.
At Crane Elementary School District, Superintendent Bob Klee did not have exact estimates, but he did say district officials have been discussing possible cuts and that they are concerned.
“I'm trying to be optimistic and hope that cooler heads prevail at the federal level,” he said.
With recurring budget cuts over the past few years, Klee said belts have already been cinched tight.
“We've got them down to the spinal cord now, so every little bit's going to hurt.”
Unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in “sequester” cuts are set to take effect from March-September. The White House says the losses that Arizona would incur as a result of the automatic budget cuts include:
• $17.7 million in lost funding for K-12 schools. The lost funding could result in about 240 teaching and aide jobs being put at risk. Additionally, Arizona would lose about $10 million for 120 teachers and staff who help children with disabilities.
• Head Start services would be eliminated for about 1,000 children in Arizona.
• About 2,300 fewer low-income students in Arizona would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 330 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
• Arizona would lose $2.1 million in funding for efforts to protect air and water and guard against pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste.
• About 10,000 civilian employees for the Department of Defense would be furloughed. That would reduce gross pay by $52 million.
• Arizona would lose $298,000 in grants for law enforcement.
• Arizona would lose $781,000 in funding for job-search assistance. That translates to 26,000 fewer people getting help to find jobs.
• Up to 500 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care.
• About 2,500 fewer children will receive vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and Hepatitis B.
• The state will lose $611,000 for improving its ability to respond to public health threats, such as infectious diseases, natural disasters and other events. In addition, Arizona will lose about $1.9 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse. The state also will lose $186,000 resulting in around 4,600 fewer HIV tests.
• Arizona could lose up to $132,000 for services to victims of domestic violence, meaning 500 fewer victims could be served.
• More than $1 million for providing meals to seniors could be lost.
• U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not be able to keep the same staffing levels of Border Patrol agents and CBP officers. Funding and staffing reductions would increase wait times at airports and weaken security between ports of entry. The White House didn't provide specific financial figures on how the budget cuts will affect ports of entry in Arizona.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.