hazard-herald.com

Commissioner concerned over federal education cuts

Bailey RichardsStaff Reporter

July 20, 2012

A change in federal funding could lead to education cuts at the state level, according to a warning recently sent to superintendents from Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.


According to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the cuts will cause a loss of around 1,300 education jobs and affect 130,000 students in Kentucky. Nationwide, the cuts could cut around 80,000 jobs and will affect over 9 million students.


While Kentucky has come a long way in education, moving from being considered one of the lowest achieving states decades ago to being close to the middle of the pack, officials are concerned that this improvement could be jeopardized. While the federal government has long put priority on education, shrinking budgets are forcing them to dig into the education funds, which Commissioner Holliday thinks will hurt Kentucky’s students.


In a press statement from the Kentucky Department of Education, Holliday said that these cuts will directly hinder the education of Kentucky students. He believes some sort of intervention into this budget is the only way to help avoid the consequences of the cuts.


“These spending reductions will have a devastating effect on Kentucky’s public school budgets,” said Holliday. “Without any federal legislative action to address the cuts, they will begin as early as January 2013 and continue through 2021. They will have a direct impact on jobs, students and the abilities of districts to provide services through federal programs.”


Some of the areas affected by these cuts are areas that are of constant concern for schools here in Eastern Kentucky. Over $450,000 will be cut from the Rural Education Program in Kentucky, and around $80,000 will be cut from the Homeless Education Program.


One of the areas that will be most hard hit is Head Start programs in Kentucky. Around $10 million statewide will be cut from Head Start programs that help prepare underprivileged children for school as well as acting as an educational and nurturing daycare.


The hardest hit area in the federal budget for Kentucky education is the Local Agency Education Grant Program that helps low-income schools with financial assistance. Around $18 million will be cut in Kentucky from this fund.


All totaled, around $60 million will be cut from Kentucky schools over the next several years. These cuts will save the federal government around $4.7 billion, but according to Holliday, it could cost them much more.


Holliday said that the Kentucky Department of Education is looking into the exact effects of these cuts and are finding out ways they can help alleviate this pain on the districts.


“Meanwhile, I encourage school officials to monitor the situation closely, plan and conservatively budget,” said Holliday. “They also may wish to reach out to their U.S. Congressional delegations.”