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Fiscal cliff bad news for area schools
Local system would lose half a million in funds
Charles Wilson web
Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson.

The so-called “fiscal cliff” looming at year’s end could translate into more than a half-million dollars in cuts to the Bulloch County Schools’ 2013-14 budget.
If lawmakers in Washington fail to address a series of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts and tax increases set to take effect in January — a troubling scenario according to many economists — the local system will follow through on a state Department of Education mandate to cut at least 9 percent of federal funds for low-income students support and disabilities programs next year.
The move would trim about $545,000 of $6.1 million in federal dollars given to the Bulloch County School System, according to Superintendent Charles Wilson.
“It will make a considerable impact on us, and there will have to be some pretty significant cuts. It will be like a kick in the gut,” Wilson said. “I am not optimistic that (lawmakers) will get this solved. I am hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.”
Cuts in Bulloch County, and in districts throughout the U.S., would be made to federal Title I funds — which provide academic support for students falling behind standards at schools with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged students — grants for special education students, and career and technical education programs.
“The majority of what we spend these funds on is personnel for those programs, but that doesn’t mean we will cut personnel,” Wilson said. “What this will likely mean is cutting resources to those programs that meet the needs of low-income and disabled students.”
Specifics as to what resources will become more limited are still in question, as school officials plan the upcoming budget.
“We have our back up against the wall, because we will be expected to perform and have these students do well, while at the same time, taking away the money,” Wilson said. “We will just have to deal with the cuts when they happen and take it in stride. The process we will go through this upcoming year will require us to reestablish our direction and determine what our needs our.”
Federal lawmakers have recently sparred over resolutions to the “fiscal cliff” — a combination of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and major across-the-board spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs that could total $800 billion next year — in a hurried effort to compromise before the year’s end.
Democrats and Republicans have gone back and forth on proposals to minimize cuts and increase revenues.
Democrats maintain that a deal must include raising the tax rate on the wealthy.
According to reports, Republicans have indicated they'll listen to calls for a tax increase in exchange for lowering spending on programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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