Local Education Programs May be Effected By Sequester Decision
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The sequester decision that could result in billions of dollars of cuts across the board needs to be made in the next four days.
Those cuts will have several impacts locally, including to education programs.
School District 51 is no stranger to deep cuts and they may be facing even more due to the upcoming sequester deadline.
"For us that means that those [federal] fundings would be reduced somewhere between 7-10 percent," said Melissa Callahan deVita with Support Services of School District 51.
White House officials say if the sequester goes into effect, more than $16 million will be cut statewide from federal funding for Title 1 grants for low income students and special need students.
Fortunately, last fall District 51 officials decided to hold back funds to prepare for the possibility of these cuts.
"In the form of the Title 1 grants for the lower socioeconomic kids, we have held back approximately $500,000 and for special education we've held back about $300,000," said deVita.
That will save the programs for this school year if the sequester goes into effect, but another education program is also on the chopping block.
"With the children that we serve, coming from a low income family, sometimes they don't possess those skills, they're environment might indicate something is missing," said Judy Lopez, Director of the Western Colorado Head Start Program of the students that enroll.
The sequester would eliminate their services for around 700 children statewide.
"We would lose some of our enrollment capacity, we wouldn't be able to serve as many children as we currently are," said Lopez.
With nearly 100 students already on the waiting list for Head Start in Western Colorado, their other option would be to cut their services which range from education, health services, disability and mental health services and more.
"We desperately need to be able to provide to continue the quality of care that we are giving to our children and any cuts would harm the program as it is," said Lopez.
Although School District 51 is financially set for this school year, officials say they are also supporting Head Start to continue to receive funding because, if not, it may put pressure on the district's early education programs which are on their own wait list.