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Morning Sun
  • Local groups see some effects from sequester

  • In Crawford County, sequestration hit. But while the mandatory spending cuts hit, so far the hit could have been worse.

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  •   In Crawford County, sequestration hit. But while the mandatory spending cuts hit, so far the hit could have been worse. Most local organizations said that the sequestration had its effect, but that the effect was not nearly as large as it could have been. "We had our federal funding cut, but we anticipated that. We were at a point in the year where it didn't have a huge impact. It did have an impact, but it wasn't catastrophic," said Krista Postai, CHC-SEK CEO. "The KanCare cuts had a far greater impact." The Family Resource Center saw some indirect effects of their own. As grant money is less available, the pennies have had to be pinched elsewhere. The auxiliary program -- not child care -- has lost four positions (luckily, they've found jobs elsewhere). "It's money we've lost through indirect parts of grants. The center will lose that money, and have to find money elsewhere to fill it. We're not directly affected, but indirectly. It's a trickle down," said Ann Elliott, Family Resource Center executive director. Dan Duling, SEK Interlocal 637 director, said that the state absorbed a lot of the federal cuts. He said that if the state hadn't absorbed the cuts, then his office would see cuts in the $100,000-$140,000 range.  Overall, the state saw a roughly $5.25 million cut in its would-be funding for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding. According to information provided by Duling, that means a potential staff of 63 jobs across the state were lost. Special education is unique, in that its funding is not driven by the number of students, but by maintenance of expenditures. In essence, it has to spend at the same rate each year to keep its federal funding. With federal dollars going down and the state taking the hit (and not able to increase its own funding), the costs must go somewhere. Eventually, Duling suspects, the school districts that help fund about 22 percent of special education will have to help cover the cuts. Just not yet. "We are cutting to decrease costs. We're going to decrease an administrative position," Duling said. "We have a person leaving, and we will not replenish that position. We always want to keep kids first. I always think about students needs, and how we can try our best to reduce any cost, and not the direct relationship with the students." School districts are seeing their own effects, just like SEK Interlocal 637. In particular, it's the field of Title I, which refers to support schools receive in high-poverty areas, like almost all in Southeast Kansas.  "It means less funding for all those students identified. It's not necessarily special education, but it could be a regular kid struggling with math or a reading concept. We have Title teachers, supplies, technology and resources," said Brian Biermann, USD 250 assistant superintendent. According to the state, most school districts in the region will see a 5-10 percent cut in their Title I funding. Biermann's USD 250 is expecting a preliminary cut of about 7.5 percent. Frontenac will see the smallest cut, at about 1 percent, 
    Page 2 of 2 - Girard is the next lowest, at about 5 percent. Hit the hardest will be Northeast and Southeast, with a preliminary cut of about 9.8 and 9.1 percent, respectively. For USD 250, that amounts to about $75,000. "It's affecting us locally. That $75,000, that's about two teachers, and the money has to come from somewhere. We may have to cut some supporting things, but we're not laying anyone off. That 7.5 percent cut this year, then the next, then the one following, it'll add up," Biermann said. "But when 80 percent of a school's budget is personnel, it's a tough balancing act."
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