MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – As the threat of sequestration continues to loom over north Alabama, local school systems are bracing for a potential double whammy that would come from steep federal spending cuts.
Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said he’s already looking at budget adjustments in light of sequestration, which would hit many area schools on two different fronts. According to Fowler, the first point of impact would be a loss of direct federal funding for a variety of programs that will likely be scaled back, including those related to special education and child nutrition.
“We’re very concerned about the effect of sequestration,” said Fowler, who noted that both students and staff members would be impacted. “We’ve already spoken to our staff members, those in charge of federal programs… we’re already making budget provisions in case this occurred.”
But officials say the indirect impact of sequestration on many north Alabama school systems could be even harsher. A significant loss in sales tax monies and other revenue streams could result from massive job cuts and salary reductions at Redstone Arsenal and surrounding defense contractors. Fowler said the spillover effect could lead to big changes in how Madison and other area systems operate, as many of those districts have parents who work in defense-related sectors.
“We know that if sequestration comes that there will not be as much of the marginal dollar,” said Fowler. “We’ll just have to make budget adjustments and make preparations to our budget to do more with less, and that will be tough… A very high percent of our parents do work for government or government contractors… We are very sympathetic to those families.”
Fowler said construction and other maintenance-related projects would be the first items to be scrapped or scaled back should sequestration take effect, with priority given to budget items that directly relate to classroom learning.