Area Schools Talk About Effect of Federal Sequester on Budgets

Area school officials are reacting to federal cuts in education funding resulting from the “sequester” that went into place last week.

One of the areas cut as part of the federal “sequester” was federal education funding to local school systems.

Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said that the school system worked to avoid being caught unprepared for the cut in federal funding.

“We were told over a year ago to begin to prepare for this, so we set aside 10 percent of our federal allocation,” said Whiten. “Of course, any loss of federal funds will have a negative impact on our budget, but for the last several years, we have been tightening up. We are hoping this carryover money will help us ease into next year as we see what is going on.”

According to Whiten, most of the federal money goes towards personnel.

That is also the case in Franklin County, according to its School Superintendent Dr. Ruth Odell.

Odell said that the cut is significant for Franklin County.

According to Odell, the Franklin County school system has relied on its federal funding for the past several years and that reserve of federal money is just about depleted.

“We’ve used so much every year that we don’t have any carry over money,” Odell said. “We don’t have any room for cuts in the federal money. So it means what federal money we used to use will now have to come from our general fund or we will have to begin lay-offs.”

In Stephens County, Whiten says it is too soon to tell what further cuts may be coming and what impact more cuts would have on the next fiscal year, which will start on July 1.

(MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia contributed to this story)