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Fiscal cliff would impact Tennessee schools

6:32 PM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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Lawmakers have 26 days to reach a deal on fiscal cliff negotiations.

If they do not compromise, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts would go into effect for a wide range of programs.

Those cuts, called sequestration, would include losses to every Tennessee school district.

Hamblen County Schools District Director of Schools, Dr. Dale Lynch, said they would lose $558,000 per year, or 10% of their federal funding.

The areas affected include spending for:

-Title 1, high poverty schools
-Title 2, teacher training and recruitment
-Title 3, English language acquisition or non-English speaking students
-Special education programs
-Technical education programs

In Hamblen County, they have 10 schools classified as Title 1, including Hillcrest Elementary where 92% of students receive free or reduced lunch.

"We depend on Title 1 monies. We don't make our money through school fundraisers, through parent donations, or community donations. Our Title 1 budget supports our school," said Hillcrest Elementary Principal, Martha Kelly.

Dr. Lynch said on top of cuts to technology, sequestration would mean cutting personnel.

"When you're already funding education at a level that you're not proud of, it's going to continue to hurt and make deep cuts in our academic programs," Dr. Lynch said.

Dr. Lynch hasn't opted for the wait and see approach. Instead, he has urged his representatives to avoid sequestration.

"We need to be proactive and make sure we get the message out... about what this can potentially mean for our students our schools," he said.

Congress has until December 31st at midnight to reach an agreement.


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