Fiscal Cliff: S.F. Schools to Lose Millions if D.C. Lawmakers Don't Make Budget Deal

Categories: Education
Think of the children.
Multiple times during the San Francisco Unified District Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, the room of educators, parents, and spectators cheered at the mention of Prop. 30, which will prevent $23 million of cuts to the public school system.

But near the end of the meeting, board member Jill Wynns soured the joyous moment with the grim reality: We should discuss how to prepare for sequestration, she said, and how to deal with the potential loss of federal funding.

If Congress and President Obama do not come to a debt-reducing budget agreement by New Year's Day, the infamous $1.2 trillion across-the-board-cuts will go into effect. SFUSD, Wynns told the Examiner this week, would lose $5.4 million.

Head Start and special education programs would take the brunt of the cuts. Though the pain would likely be distributed, with other sections of the system taking cuts to help cover those losses.

San Francisco's misery would have company. The American Association of School Administrators calculates that schools would lose $4 billion nationwide, CNN reported. National School Boards Association estimates that districts would lose $300,000 for every 5,000 students.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies reported in July that "States and local communities would lose $2.7 billion in Federal funding for just three critical education programs alone -- Title I, special education state grants, and Head Start -- that serve a combined 30.7 million children. Nationwide, these cuts would force 46,349 employees to either lose their jobs or rely on cash-strapped states and localities to pick up their salaries instead."

Obama and the Congressional leaders, including S.F. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, had their first budget meeting earlier today. Everybody seemed optimistic. The New York Times reported that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the press that they would be willing to "put revenues on the table," which they weren't willing to do last year.

"I feel confident that a solution may be in sight," said Pelosi.

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