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Education, Head Start could be impacted by sequestration

6:53 PM, Feb 25, 2013   |    comments
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The White House has released more information over the weekend about what the sequestration will do state-by-state.

In Tennessee, what could see the greatest impact is education.

"We serve families at or below the poverty level," said Lesa Larson, the director of the Anderson County Head Start program. She said for the last few months, the program has prepared for the possibility of federal cuts in their funding.

If no deal is reached in Washington by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, the program is expected to start funding reductions by 5.3 percent by the end of June. That is an $80,000 overall cut.

Afterwards, the cut would be more than 8 percent, or what could be collectively $227,000 a year.

"If the bottom line is children, then we'd be looking at cutting 36 children from our budget," Larson added.

"Whether it's a head start program or a pre-K program or K-12 in terms of suddenly by losing staff by the end of the academic year, or teachers or teacher furloughs next year," Maryville College professor Dr. Mark O'Gorman said about other educational cuts from the sequestration.

According to the White House release to Tennessee, primary and secondary education would see a nearly $15 million reduction in funding in the state. Another $12 million would be lost in disability services for children.

Dr. O'Gorman believes these changes would not take an immediate effect at the stroke of midnight.

"What we'll see over time as the year builds in as we see more and more impact," said Dr. O'Gorman. "Then the question is if the politicians can handle the increasing pressure from constituents."

As the countdown to March first continues in Washington, some are hoping for a last minute miracle.

"We're hopeful that come Friday, we hope they say April Fools a month early," said Larson.

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