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JCPS Hit Hardest by Sequestration

The Kentucky Department of Education is asking school districts to be conservative when budgeting federal dollars for next year, as across the board cuts known as sequestration are expected to chop funds by 5 percent.

The commonwealth receives nearly $500 million in federal funding which goes to programs like Title 1 funding for low-income schools, improving teacher quality, vocational rehabilitation and English learner education. In a KDE webinar for school districtsthis week, state officials said the 5 percent federal cuts to KDE will total around $31.8 million. These five percent cuts will happen each year for the next decade under sequestration unless Congress acts.KDE associate commissioner Hiren Desai told districts to be conservative and budget up to 10 percent cuts for those programs supported by these federal dollars in their 2013-14 budgets. But, he says, all programs aren't expected to be slashed by that much.Title 1, which is based on poverty and population numbers, receives the most funds. Statewide that number is $225 million. Now, officials say that will drop by $12.4 million. While some districts could see a five percent cut to Title 1 funding, JCPS expects to see a 9.9 percent cut, said Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association.Hughes also says the size of JCPS means it will also be among the districts losing the most federal money.“Clearly because of the number of students in the Jefferson County school system and the number of programs they participate in, they will by far have the largest hit," he says.KDE will learn in May how much federal money individual districts can expect to lose.“You’ll be able confirm exactly what your cut is. But I still recommend being conservative,” Desai says.JCPS officials originally projected to lose around $7 million in federal funds, but they say that has likely changed. Further, a spokesman for JCPS writes to WFPL because the cuts are estimates, officials aren’t comfortable commenting at this time.Desai says districts may have a chance through the state's No Child Left Behind waiver or through the new Districts of Innovation law to allocate other funds to programs where federal money will run short.    

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