Avon Officials: Federal Sequester Could Reduce IDEA Grant Funding for Special Education in CT Schools

In a breakdown released Sunday by the Obama White House, officials say the automatic cuts that would take affect Friday could have broad implications for the state and country, including middle class jobs.

Connecticut could lose middle class jobs and "vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform" under the automatic federal budget cuts known as the sequester that are looming this week, the White House said Sunday in a summary of the budget reductions.

In comparison to other Connecticut towns, Avon "does not receive a large amount of State Aid (which includes Federal pass-thru funds)," Avon Assistant Town Manager Steve Bartha wrote in an email to Patch. State aid is expected to make up about 5.6 percent, or $4.5 million, of Avon's "anticipated revenue" in the next fiscal year, he said.

"Of that, roughly $633,000 supports the town operating budget," Bartha said.

It is hard to predict specifically how a federal sequester could affect Avon, according to Bartha, who noted that "it appears that agencies would have some discretion in the application of discretionary spending cuts."

However, one "potential concern" for town officials is what it could mean for federal grant money available to schools to benefit special education students, according to Bartha. If a projected $1.1 billion is cut from funding designated for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant – Section 611, Part B – federal appropriation could drop "to 2005 levels," he said.

The budget cuts would see the state lose $8.7 million in education funding along with another $6.3 million in federal funds to help students with disabilities.

"This could trickle down to the Town's pass-thru from the State (or the State could hold Towns harmless)," Bartha said. "The BOE is projecting $581,000 in the proposed budget for the IDEA grant."

The cuts, the White House document says, would put "around 120 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 8,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 40 fewer schools would receive funding."

"The bottom line is that any reduction in State Aid (and, by proxy, Federal pass-thru funds), whether on the Town or Education side of the budget, would require either a tax-levy increase or a spending reduction," Bartha said.

Other possible impacts of the sequestriation in this state include:

  • Work-Study Jobs: Around 550 fewer low income students in Connecticut would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 470 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
  • Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 500 children in Connecticut, reducing access to critical early education.
  • Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Connecticut would lose about $2 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Connecticut could lose another $398,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
  • Military Readiness: In Connecticut, approximately 3,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $15 million in total.
  • Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Connecticut will lose about $153,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.
  • Job Search Assistance to Help those in Connecticut find Employment and Training: Connecticut will lose about $242,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 10,650 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.
  • Child Care: Up to 200 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.


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