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October 7, 2015

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$8.3 million in funding cuts loom over CCSD in sequestration

The Clark County School District would lose an estimated $8.3 million in federal funding should looming budget cuts – known as the sequester – go into effect Friday, according to the U.S. Education Department.

For months, school districts across the nation have been left in budgetary limbo as Congress deliberates a solution to sequestration, across-the-board spending cuts to federal programs and departments to reduce the national debt.

Clark County – the nation's fifth-largest school district – receives $90.3 million in Title I funding, which goes to public schools with a high population of children from low-income households.

The U.S. Education Department estimates that Clark County's federal Title I funding allocation would be reduced by 9.2 percent. The potential cuts would impact next school year's budget.

"The district's responsibility is to plan for any worst case scenario," said School District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson. "We are watching Congress' actions and working with our building leaders on how we would continue to provide the best education possible in the face of even more devastating cuts to our bottom line."

Although it is is a small portion of the School District's $2 billion annual budget, the estimated $8.3 million reduction in Title I funding would affect Las Vegas' neediest children.

About 57 percent of Clark County's 311,000 schoolchildren receive free and reduced-price lunches. About 22 percent of Clark County students live below the poverty line, which is $23,550 for a family of four.

A record 224 schools – or about 63 percent of the district's 357 schools – are considered Title I schools this year. These schools are using the federal money to fund "high-need" teaching positions, as well as after-school tutoring, literacy and math programs. Some of these positions and programs could be in jeopardy should sequestration occur.

At the state level, Nevada is expected to lose $9.1 million in federal Title I funding, which represents a 5 percent reduction in funding, according to the U.S. Education Department.

The cuts would affect 13,777 students in as many as 13 schools statewide. Up to 125 teachers and staff could lose their jobs.

Nevada also would lose about $3.8 million in federal funding for about 50 additional teachers and staff who work with special-needs children.

The Silver State's Head Start preschool programs also would be eliminated for about 300 children. In addition, about 1,150 fewer children would receive vaccines for diseases.

Congressional leaders have less than three days to act before the March 1 deadline to prevent sequestration, said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. If lawmakers fail to come up with a solution, Duncan's department is bracing for $2.5 billion in cuts to special education, higher education and other school programs.

"Our communities and their schools are just starting to pull out of the recession and instead of cutting education further, we should be investing," Duncan said in a statement. "Americans, especially educators and parents of school children, need to let their elected representatives know this is the wrong choice, and urge them to figure out a solution to avoid this.”

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