Sequester Hitting State Schools

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An Arizona school superintendent said said her district has already cut 40 positions because of automatic federal spending reductions and will recommend cutting 65 more and closing three schools next year to save money.

“It’s a very difficult time,” Window Rock Unified School District Superintendent Debbie Jackson-Dennison said of the so-called “budget sequestration.”

“Our community already faces severe social and economical disadvantages that sequestration will add to,” she said.

Jackson-Dennison joined five other superintendents from around the country whose districts are heavily dependent on federal impact aid and who experienced cuts even before they took effect.

The Payson Unified School District

also gets federal funding to compensate for all the federal land on which property tax is not paid, for the school lunch program that covers 71 percent of its students and for programs like special education and programs to help low income students. However, Payson school officials say they don’t yet know whether automatic spending cuts will affect them. School officials had already assumed they won’t get hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal aid from forest fees in the upcoming budget year.

The members of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools represent districts that rely on federal funds to make up for the loss of property taxes because of the presence of large amounts of tax-exempt federal property.

The superintendents, who were joined by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, called on Congress to make a deal to stop the cuts.

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