While the Lawrence Township School District recently received some good news from the state Department of Education – that LTPS had received a “high performing” rating in the state’s Quality Single Accountability Continuum performance review – the district also received some bad news.
“We received notice of a possible action on behalf of the federal government to sequester either all or part of our federal funds that become available July 2013 for the 2013-2014 school year,” district Superintendent Crystal Lovell announced at Monday evening’s (Aug. 13) Board of Education meeting.
“This is part of the order that the president can do if he needs to eliminate the deficit. So what does that mean for us? We could lose, if we go by this year’s figures, about $466,000 worth of NCLB [No Child Left Behind] funding for the 213-2014 school year… In addition, this also covers IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] and I think that’s about $1.4 million right now,” she explained.
In a letter dated Aug. 7, the state Department of Education advises that Congress has until Jan. 2, 2013, to enact legislation that would reduce the federal budget deficit by a minimum of $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. If that does not happen, according to the DOE letter, then the Budget Control Act will go into effect on Jan. 2, 2013, and federal education funds could be sequestered and used instead to reduce the federal deficit.
“If the President can’t reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, this is one of the options in the Budget Control Act, that you can cut all or some of the federal funding to states and then states, of course, pass that down to districts,” Lovell said. “They are giving us notice now so that we can be prepared in the event that we do lose those funds.”
The funding that would potentially be lost funds programs for special education students, at-risk students and ESL [English as a second language] learners, as well as professional development for teachers.
“We are usually notified in July what our allocations are for that following school year. Though it should not affect us for this current school year – let me repeat that, this current school year we’re OK with IDEA and NCLB funds – it’s looking ahead to the 2013-2014 year that it could possibly be a challenge for us,” Lovell said.
She said district staff will begin to formulate a plan for how the district would proceed should federal funding be cut for the 2013-2014 school year.
“For us, we begin budgeting for the next school year in October, so it’s important for us to know that’s a possibility, that we may lose that funding, and to keep that close enough to the foreground so that if we do get notice of it, we have a backup plan,” she said. “I don’t like it. I certainly don’t want to cut programs that we have now funded by those funds.”
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Also at Monday’s school board meeting, in addition to the discussion about high student enrollment and concerns about dwindling classroom space in district schools, the school board passed a resolution formally moving regular board meetings from the second Monday of each month to the second Wednesday, beginning in September.
Such a move was previously discussed at the July 9 meeting as a way to allow board members more time to review meeting agendas in advance of the actually meetings.
A special board meeting – at which the last round of hires before the start of the new school year will be approved – remains scheduled for Monday, Aug. 27.
Future meetings are now scheduled to take place on the following Wednesdays:
- Sept. 12, 2012
- Oct. 10, 2012
- Nov. 14, 2012
- Dec. 19, 2012 (moved one week later due to Hanukkah)
- Jan. 9, 2013
- Feb. 13, 2013
- March 13, 2013
- April 10, 2013
A PDF copy of the New Jersey Department of Education’s letter, and an accompanying letter from the U.S. Department of Education, can be found in the media box above.
Also available in the media box above is a revised copy of the Monday’s school board meeting agenda.
Audio from Monday’s meeting can be found here on the school district’s website.