Reminder: Sequester cuts will be delayed until July

As Friday's sequestration deadline looms closer, the White House released over the weekend a detailed, state-by-state analysis of the impacts of the automatic cuts - with an emphasis on education.

In California, the Obama administration warned of a cut this year of $87.6 million for primary and secondary education, putting about 1,200 educator jobs at risk, and an additional $62.9 million in special education funds that could impact as many as 760 teachers and classroom aides.

But the analysis, which attracted a lot of attention in the mainstream press, largely failed to mention that most of the education cuts won't kick in until July, according to a decision the administration made last summer.

The across-the-board cuts were placed into federal law in 2011 by the Obama administration and Congressional leaders in an effort to create a political incentive for finding at least $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade. Because a bipartisan committee later failed to agree on those cuts and no subsequent agreement has been reached, the sequestration remains part of federal law and will go off if no alternative is adopted.

Thus, nearly $1 trillion in budget cuts are scheduled to begin on March 1, but will continue to be carried out over the next 10 years.

Still, a memo from U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Anthony Miller to chief state school officers last July indicated that the major K-12 education programs will be exempt from any sequestration cuts during the 2012-13 school year.

That means that the cuts to Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will not begin until July, 2013 - giving states and school districts some time to adjust.

The department will take the sequester from funds that would become available in July 2013 for school year 2013-14, not from the 2012 advance appropriations available in October 2012," the Miller memo said. "The amount of the reduction will be calculated by applying the sequester percentage (to be determined by the Office of Management and Budget) to the fiscal year 2013 budgetary resources from both the 2012 advance appropriations and the 2013 regular appropriations that are available for the four accounts. The calculated sequester amount will then get subtracted from the July 2013 funding. The net effect will be to cut the funding level for the programs in the four accounts with advance funding by the same percentage as all other programs, projects and activities."

For California administrators, however, that may need to trim certificated staff next fall as a result of sequestration - there's the annual March 15 deadline to consider, when districts must give preliminary notice to teachers that might be laid off.

The White House noted two other educational impacts from the sequestration:

- Around 9,600 fewer low income students in California would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 3,690 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

- Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 8,200 children in California, reducing access to critical early education.

To read the Miller memo visit:

http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/Letter_07_20_2012.pdf

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