Sequestration Harms Classroom Instruction the Most, AASA Survey Reveals


James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)


Alexandria, Va. – Aug. 14, 2013 – With the 2013-2014 academic year upon us, sequestration will translate into reductions in and eliminations to school staff, curriculum, facilities and operations, according to a report released today by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

When asked how the across-the-board federal cuts will impact their communities, 86 percent of the more than 500 AASA members surveyed said their districts were unable to absorb the cuts, leaving schools to decide what combination of layoffs, program elimination and other budgetary reductions would least impact student learning. Fifty-three percent said the cuts would mostly affect instructional staff.

“Back-to-school is an exciting time for AASA members. Superintendents love the start of a new school year, welcoming back staff and students,” said Dan Domenech, AASA executive director. “Cuts from the sequester are dampening back-to-school excitement as school systems open their doors, having adjusted their overall budgets to reflect decreased federal investment. School district budgets have just started to stabilize and trend toward pre-recession levels.”

“The cuts of sequestration threaten to undermine not just educational opportunities for students, but also the very fragile economic recovery starting to take hold at the state and local levels,” added Domenech.

Additionally, respondents reported the cuts would mean reducing professional development (59 percent), increasing class size (48 percent) and deferring technology purchases (46 percent). Bound by the responsibility to pass on-time balanced budgets, superintendents described efforts to offset cuts in 2013-2014 but expressed concern about additional reductions in the future.

The survey—Surviving Sequester, Round One: Schools Detail Impact of Sequester Cuts—is the 15th in a series conducted by AASA on the impact of the economic downturn and related fiscal policies on the nation’s schools. The series was launched in 2008 in response to state budget shortfalls, federal aid interventions and a series of additional events characterizing a slowing, stagnant economy.

“One of the best-kept secrets of sequestration is how the allegedly ‘across-the-board’ nature of sequestration is anything but ‘across the board’ for our nation’s schools,” said Bruce Hunter, AASA associate executive director, advocacy, policy and communications. “The share of federal dollars in overall operating school budgets varies district-by-district. While all will feel a 5 percent cut from the sequester, that cut will be much deeper in some districts.”

“Higher-poverty districts generally have a larger share of their funding coming from the federal level. Sequester cuts will disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable students in the most vulnerable districts,” added Hunter.

AASA’s Economic Impact Survey Series has provided the only long-term snapshot of how the nation’s schools have responded to and been impacted by the nation’s economic downtown and resulting fiscal policies. Previous studies can be found online at

Download a copy of Surviving Sequester [pdf]. For specific questions about the report, please contact Noelle Ellerson, AASA assistant director, policy analysis and advocacy at or 703-774-6935.



About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit Follow AASA on Twitter at or on Facebook at Information on AASA Children’s Programs can be found on Twitter @AASATotalChild.