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Sequestration Could Impact Verona, Cedar Grove Schools' 2013-14 Budget

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

Verona and Cedar Grove 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. 

The district will learn its state aid figures this week after Gov. Chris Christie delivers his fiscal year 2014 budget address Tuesday afternoon.

“We got a total of $488,000 from the federal government from 2012 to 2013,” said Verona Superintendent Steven Forte. "There is a chance that the district could lose up to 25 percent which equates to over $100,000"

“If we lost 25 percent we would have to reassess and reallocate money,” said. “It's not a huge portion of our budget but it's still enough to cause us to move some things around. We just don't have that kind of leeway or flexibility in our budget.”

Forte said he does not believe it will effect teaching jobs but it is still too early to say definitively, he added.

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. 

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.

"We have not been advised of the total immediate impact as of this issue from the NJDOE upon the school district should this be implemented on March 1," said Dr. Gene Polles, Superintendent of Cedar Grove Schools.

Cedar Grove does not currently have a Head Start program or receive Title 1 funds, said Polles, but the district's Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds have been dedicated to student tuitions for those students with disabilities who attend schools out of our district, he said.

"I am not sure if we will or will not be impacted in this area," he said.

"Obviously, those school districts that are operating these programs will be impacted greatly," said Polles. "Right now the concern deals with the unknown of what may happen and how this may slow the economy down even further than it already is operating."

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. 

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