WA schools, from 'K' through college, face the sequester

The State School Superintendent warned of numerous cuts, including $9 million less for the Head Start program
By Chris Thomas | Mar 04, 2013

By this fall, it will be harder to find financial aid to enroll in one of Washington's community and technical colleges.

Federal funding for some types of grants is going away as part of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.

Nick Lutes, operating budget director with the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, said it looks like the cuts will affect mostly small, but targeted, programs for certain types of students - such as English-language learners and workers training for new careers.

"Most of the federal grants that we get - at least, that come through the State Board - deal with adult basic education and English skills. And those certainly will be going down, and that will affect offerings of those types of courses and those types of services through the colleges."

Lutes pointed out that the Washington community college system runs mostly on state funding and tuition dollars.

He added that, with the Legislature still in the process of divvying up scarce state money this year, the federal cuts add another layer of uncertainty, making it tough for schools and students to plan for the future.

The Pell Grants for low-income college students have been spared from the sequestration, but other grants will be trimmed starting next school year.

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges estimates the basic education and English-learners' cuts will mean 300 fewer students in those programs.

Sandra Schroeder, president of AFT-Washington, predicted a noticeable ripple effect.

"We suspect that that 300 is tip of an iceberg and there will be several hundreds more than that affected by these other grants," she said, "which then turn into job losses for faculty and staff, which then again, starts hurting the state economy."

For younger students, the State School Superintendent warned of numerous cuts, including $9 million less for the Head Start program for low-income preschoolers, effective immediately, and $11 million less for Special Education in the next school year.


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