Daviess County Schools Preparing in Case of Budget Cuts This Friday

Feb 24, 2013

A Daviess County school bus
Credit daviesskyschools.org

Schools in western Kentucky have started to consider options if federal funding cuts are implemented next Friday.

If Congress doesn't move to stop the cuts scheduled to take place on March 1, nearly $3 billion in education funding would be cut.

Daviess County Superintendent Owen Saylor told the Messenger-Inquirer that the district is trying to prepare just in case.

"Worst case, we're looking at $535,000 in lost funding for our district alone," Saylor said. "We don't want to scare anyone. We don't like giving bad news, but if nothing changes, we're like everyone else. Eventually you have to cut jobs."

School administrators in western Kentucky discussed options last week when they met to begin drafting tentative budgets for the next school year. They say they are planning for cuts of between 4 and 10 percent.

Superintendents say the cuts could mean bigger classes, fewer programs to aid students and fewer employees.

They said up to 80 percent of the funding cuts would affect students with disabilities and those receiving free lunch.

Matt Robbins, Daviess County Public Schools assistant superintendent, said he shares the frustrations of regional administrators.

"It's up to us to plan not just for the end result--whatever that will be--but also for the turmoil that comes when Congress waits to the last second," he said. "We have obligations, and pretty soon, we'll have to let teachers know we may or may not have a job for them next year. How would that affect your day? And since we can't plan with real numbers, we have to plan for adversity."

Hancock County Superintendent Kyle Estes said there are a lot of unknowns with the cuts, which are being called sequestration.

"Right now, we're planning as if sequestration will occur at around 8 percent, but that leaves a whole lot of unknowns," he said. "Even at middle ground, we're looking at $46,000 cut."

Eventually, he said, jobs will be affected.

"My hope is always that it won't, but there's only so much you can cut," Estes said. "Roughly 80 percent of our budget is personnel, so you can tell, eventually it's going to end up being jobs. We have to keep the lights on."