2-25-2013 - Sequestration Could Affect CWC School Budget (Caldwells Patch)

Sequestration Could Impact Caldwell-West Caldwell School Budget

Districts across New Jersey await state aid figures this week with uncertainty.

Caldwell-West Caldwell Schools face the deadline to submit the 2013-2014 budget to the county next week with uncertainty as to whether $85 billion in federal "sequestration" spending cuts will be stopped by Congress before Friday. 

James Heinegg, superintendent of Caldwell-West Caldwell Schools, said the district will learn its state aid figures this week after Gov. Chris Christie delivers his fiscal year 2014 budget address Tuesday afternoon.

The release of the state aid figures triggers a sequence of events related to the budget process, Heinegg said, including the Board of Education approving the proposed school budget on March 5. The budget is due to the county for review next week.

“The governor gives his address tomorrow and then 48 hours after that, which is prior to March 1, that’s when we expect to get our state aid for ‘13-’14,” Heinegg said.

New Jersey could lose nearly $12 million in funding for primary and secondary education if Congress fails to halt the “sequestration” by Friday, according to figures released by the White House. 

“Since all of this is interconnected, it seems like the state would have to stick with the time frame,” Heinegg said. “I think everybody is wondering how [the sequestration] would affect things.”

Caldwell-West Caldwell Schools received $961,300 in state aid for 2012-13, which was 24.7% more, or $190,700, over the previous year.

West Essex Regional Schools Superintendent Barbara Longo was not available for comment Monday. West Essex, which serves the sending districts of North Caldwell, Essex Fells, Fairfield and Roseland, received $996,142 in state aid for 2012-13, according to a spokesperson for the district.

Without action from Congress, the sequester would go into effect automatically on March 1, reducing spending by the state in a number of areas, including education, the environment, health, military and law enforcement, the White House said.

The cuts, according to the Obama administration, could jeopardize 160 teacher and aide jobs in New Jersey, as well as cut funding to 60 schools and 15,000 students.

Funding would be cut to the early childhood education program Head Start, vaccination programs for children and health services for seniors, among other things, and thousands of civilian Department of Defense employees could be furloughed, according to the White House.

The total federal spending cuts under the sequester add up to about $1.2 trillion over the next nine years.  Republicans have accused the president of using the impending cuts for political gain.  President Barack Obama's plan asks for increased tax revenues to offset some of the trillion-dollar cuts.