Sequestration Poses Economic Threat to School Districts Nation-wide, New AASA Study Shows Cuts Will Result in Loss of Personnel and Programs

Contact: Noelle Ellerson, AASA, nellerson@aasa.org, 703-774-6935

ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 10, 2012.

The American Association of School Administrators today released a new report entitled Cut Deep: How the Sequester Will Impact Our Nation’s Schools. The report, the thirteenth survey is AASA’s Economic Impact Series, looks at how schools are preparing for the potentially devastating cuts of sequestration and how the cuts would impact the nation’s schools.

Sequestration stems from the failure of the U. S. Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to identify $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over ten years and represents across-the-board budgetary cuts that will impact almost every federal program in January 2013, including cuts to education-related funding totaling more than $4 billion.

“Sequestration represents a very real threat to the nation’s schools, the students they serve and the fragile economic recovery starting to take hold at the state and local level,” said Daniel Domenech, AASA executive director, in releasing the report.

“Complicating the threat of sequestration even further is the virtual lack of information about what the sequester would mean, when the cuts would start, which programs would be impacted, and how deep the cuts would be. This report clearly documents a lack of communication between the entity implementing sequestration—Congress—and those who will feel the impact—individuals at the local level.”

Cut Deep, the latest installment of AASA’s Economic Impact Series, adds to the robust set of long-term data AASA has compiled to document how the recession and resulting policies—including sequestration—impact the nation’s schools.

“AASA recognizes the challenges Congress faces in addressing spending, revenues and mandatory programs,” said AASA President Benny Gooden. “AASA firmly believes that the blunt cuts of sequestration run counter to the widely stated and broadly supported goal of putting our nation on the path to economic health and well-being. The blind cuts of sequestration, made regardless of program demand or effectiveness, represent poor, short-sighted policy. Cut Deep illustrates that sequestration is a problem, not a solution; a mistake that dismantles any hope of long-term, sustained economic well-being and growth for our nation’s students and economy.”

According to the survey results:

• State/ local governments and school districts have very limited capacity to soften the cuts of sequestration. Nine of ten (90 percent) respondents reported that their state would be unable to absorb or offset the cuts of sequestration, equal to the 89.5 percent indicating that their district would be unable to absorb the cuts.

• School administrators report a variety of approaches in planning for sequestration. More than half (54.1 percent) of respondents reported that their budget for the 2012-13 school year built-in cuts to off-set sequestration. Less than half (45.2 percent) of respondents reported that they are waiting to see when/how sequestration unfolds. Their budgets did not build in cuts to offset sequestration, and they plan to ‘…make any necessary changes as needed, when the cuts happen’.

• The cuts of sequestration will translate to reductions in, and eliminations of, personnel, curriculum, facilities and operations. Respondents reported that the cuts of sequestration would mean reducing professional development (69.4 percent), reducing academic programs (58.1 percent), personnel layoffs (56.6 percent) and increased class size (54.9 percent). As one respondent from Alabama replied, ““The bottom line is that kids…pay the price.”

• School administrators, by a large margin, describe the sequestration-related information provided by the federal government as ‘non-existent’. For those reporting some type of information from the federal government (the administration or Congress), respondents describe the quality of information as poor/very poor.

The complete report, authored by Noelle Ellerson, Assistant Director of Policy Analysis and Advocacy, as well as the previous AASA Economic Impact Study series, is available at www.aasa.org/research.aspx. For continuing conversation about the survey and other key education issues, visit the AASA blog at www.aasa.org/AASAblog.aspx and follow the advocacy team on Twitter (@Noellerson).

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About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. The mission of AASA is to advocate for the highest quality public education for all students, and develop and support school system leaders. For more information, visit www.aasa.org. Follow AASA on twitter at www.twitter.com/AASAHQ.