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Schools Budgeting Lower In Anticipation of Sequestration Cuts

For Berkeley Heights and New Providence, it's unclear what a potential cut in federal funds would mean.

Business Administrators in local school districts say they've been advised to budget lower in the face of anticipated sequestration cuts. Officials in Berkeley Heights and New Providence said that while federal dollars don't have a significant impact on their budgets, they are preparing for less.

"We have been advised that as we're preparing our budget we should reduce what we should expect from federal funds," said Berkeley Heights Schools Business Administrator Donna Felezzola. Cuts to school aid depend on how Congress rules this week on the automatic spending cuts.  

According to New Providence Business Administrator James Testa, budgeting guidance from the New Jersey Association of School Administrators called for preparing for lower government aid. "We're a small district, so it doesn't affect us tremendously, we probably receive about half-million in federal aid," said Testa. For the new budget Tesla said the district is preparing for less.

Over in Mountainside , Business Administrator Charles Milewski said his district didn't receive a lot in the way of federal funds. "I just want to see out state aid figures," he said.

In Tuesday's budget announcement, Gov. Chris Christie said $9billion in aid would be given to public schools. But not every district would be entitled to an increase in their funding.

"We are forecasting a decrease in funding from the federal grant," says New Providence's Testa. He said the district was projecting a 25 percent decrease in funding on the federal level. "It's just a forecast and recommendation. It could come in more, or less."

Felezzola said her district wasn't relying on federal funds either, although it was a size-able chunk. "We get very little from federal funding," she said, "Approximately $500,000 from the federal government,  and we have a $43million budget." 

Through sequestration, the federal government would also save $75 million by furloughing 11,000 civilian military contractors, and another $59 million by cutting funding to military bases. 

The cuts would include:  

  • Approximately $11.7 million in funding for primary and secondary education.
  • About $17 million in funds for about 210 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
  • Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 1,300 children.
  • New Jersey would lose about $4,891,000 in environmental funding, and $472,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
  • Approximately 11,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed.
  • Army base operation funding would be cut by about $52 million in New Jersey. Funding for Air Force operations in New Jersey would be cut by about $7 million.
  • New Jersey will lose about $336,000 in Justice Assistance Grants.
  • Up to 600 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care.
  • Around 3,930 fewer children will receive vaccines.
  • New Jersey will lose approximately $840,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. New Jersey will lose about $2,330,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 3100 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services will lose about $752,000 resulting in around18,800 fewer HIV tests.
  • New Jersey could lose up to $187,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 700 fewer victims being served.
  • Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: New Jersey would lose approximately $488,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.

The total federal spending cuts would be about $1.2 trillion over the next nine years. Republicans have accused the president of using the impending cuts for political gain.

President Obama's plan asks for increased tax revenues to offset some of the trillion-dollar cuts.

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