You have probably heard a great deal about the looming fiscal cliff facing our nation, but we want to bring the debate closer to home by sharing what that cliff means for our local schools and the future of the children and youth of our community. These critically important decisions lie solely in the hands of our elected leaders in Congress and the White House, but make no mistake — they have the potential to dramatically impact our local schools.
Sequestration, the fiscal policy procedure adopted by Congress to deal with the federal budget deficit, generates automatic cuts for each of nine years, fiscal years 2013-2021, totaling $1.2 trillion. Without congressional action to prevent sequestration, the first round of cuts will take place Jan. 2. The 2013 cuts apply across-the-board to “discretionary” spending, and are divided between reductions to defense and non-defense spending, including education.
As school system leaders, we can assure you that education cuts do not heal, and the impact of the sequester on education would be severe and far-reaching. The looming fiscal cliff and sequester threaten to undermine the success of our local schools in preparing students to be college and career-ready. Kentucky legislators have made a concerted effort to protect state funding for education. Despite those efforts, the Boyle County and Danville Independent Schools’ share of state funding this year is $1,133,074 less than 2009, even though we have more students than ever before.
Under sequestration, education funding will be subject to cuts ranging from 9.1 percent (in 2013) to 5.5 percent (in 2021) according to the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities. The reduction in FY 2013 would amount to $4.1 billion. These cuts will devastate the already fragile economic condition of our local schools and will set the new baseline for future federal allocations. This is simply unacceptable.
We believe the citizens of Danville and Boyle County understand and appreciate the critical role education plays in the long-term economic health of our community.
Together, we strive constantly to do more with an ever-smaller set of resources; our students’ success should not be jeopardized because Congress is incapable of assembling a responsible, balanced and bipartisan approach to avoid the fiscal cliff.
To be more specific, sequestration for our schools will result in an additional federal funding loss of $237,672 over and above the loss in state funding we already have experienced.
Now is the time for action; now is the time for leadership. Sequestration can only be avoided if Congress passes legislation that undoes the legal requirement in the Budget Control Act before Jan. 2. There is no room for error or thoughtless, across-the-board, blunt cuts.
Please join the Boyle County and Danville Independent boards of education in urging Kentucky’s entire congressional delegation to work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to intervene and avoid the sequester and fiscal cliff. We must call on Congress to set aside differences and find common ground in a responsible approach that doesn’t disproportionately impact students by gutting our national investment in education and ultimately hampering the long-term fiscal health and competitiveness of our community and our entire country.
Mike Lafavers, superintendent, Boyle County Schools
Carmen Coleman, superintendent, Danville Schools