In a $65 million budget, $1 million is a lot of money.
And the Warren County School District could be in line to lose that much if Congress can't hammer out a deal to avoid sequestration, automatic cuts scheduled to take effect next January as a result of the congressional super committee failing to come together on a long-term debt deal last year.
Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel informed the school board's Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee on Monday night that Congress has an Oct. 1 deadline to preserve the funding.
"Without it, we will have to reduce or close our Title I programs," he said.
But a spokesman with Congressman Glenn Thompson's office, Communications Director Parish Braden does not see Oct. 1 as a hard and fast deadline.
He cited a letter from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan who wrote, "It has come to our attention that some States may have urged school districts to hold back on spending for the 2012-13 school year because of the possibility of sequestration. Assuming Congress enacts a 2013 appropriations bill that is structured similarly to the pending House or Senate bills-a reasonable assumption based on past practice-there is no reason to believe that a sequestration would affect funding for the 2012-13 school year."
Braden also expressed optimism that sequestration will be avoided by a continuing resolution that will fund the federal government until early next year and will be passed shortly after Congress returns to session after Labor Day.
He also was unaware of any October deadline, other than Congress passing appropriations bills for the upcoming year. "I doubt (it) was referencing anything related to sequestration, which Congress has until January 2013 to put forward an alternative plan to avoid the Budget Control Act's automatic cuts."
According to an executive summary presented at a WCSD school board committee meeting in May, "Title I programs are designed to help children meet the state content and performance standards in reading, language arts and mathematics."
For the 2012-2013 school year, the district estimated its allocation of Title I funding at $1,275,330, all federal funding that is given to the state and then proceeds to individual school districts. That funding is allocated to cover costs for a host of things, including K-4 math instruction, K-3 reading instruction, professional development, parental involvement activities, support for students classified as neglected or homeless, administrative oversight and clerical support, programming supplies, 16 aides and 11 teachers.
All district buildings except Russell Elementary, Beaty-Warren Middle School, Eisenhower Middle/Senior High School and Warren Area High School are expected to be eligible for portions of the funding.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, prepared a report about what effect the automatic cuts would have. Nationally, the loss of Title I funding would affect programs that serve 30.7 million students nationwide, according to the report.
Specifically in Pennsylvania, the report indicates that the Commonwealth was originally slated to receive $574,388,686 but more than $43 million could disappear if the automatic cuts kick in with 136 fewer schools receiving money and 45,781 students losing services. In addition, 594 education-related jobs would also be lost in the state, unless local entities could finance the positions by other means.