Federal Budget Cuts Could be Devastating for Oklahoma Schools

In addition to the over $300 million in state cuts to education since 2009, Oklahoma schools are facing the possibility of further devastating cuts at the federal level. The cuts will mean the loss of millions of dollars for schools and more than 1,200 teaching jobs in the state come January.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction must produce a bill this fall identifying $1.2 trillion in savings over a 10 year period or automatic budget cuts kick in, as stipulated in the 2011 Budget Control Act. The Act, which will go into effect January 2, 2013, requires an estimated 8.4 percent across the board cut for non-defense discretionary programs, including nearly all education programs.

According to a report by the National Education Association, the cuts will impact 9.35 million students and eliminate as many as 80,500 education jobs nationally. America’s public schools – pre-kindergarten through college – have added 5.4 million students since 2003 while costs have increased 25 percent during the same time.

According to the study, Oklahoma schools are estimated to lose nearly $47 million in federal aid and as many as 1,226 jobs. This would directly affect more than 100,000 state students.

“If Congress doesn’t find an answer to this problem before January, every public school student will be affected by increased class sizes and the loss of important services,” said Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association. “We have already lost 1,500 teaching positions over the last three years while, at the same time, adding more than 22,000 students. Losing more money and more teachers would be devastating.”

Some of the biggest cuts to important Oklahoma programs, include:

  • Title 1 grants (services for disadvantaged students, identified as eligible for free and reduced lunch) – A loss of $13.9 million and 220 jobs;
  • Special Education grants (preK-12th grade students) – A loss of $12.8 million and 205 jobs;
  • Vocational Rehabilitation grants – A loss of $3.6 million and 30 jobs;
  • Career Technology grants – A loss of $1.4 million and 22 jobs; and
  • Head Start grants – $8.2 million and 540 jobs.

“A sound public education system is the key to our general economic health,” Hampton said. “It’s vital that we appropriately fund public education so that young people are ready for the real world, and so that our businesses have an educated workforce.”

Click here to see the NEA’s study on the Impact of Sequestration on Federal Education Programs.


 

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