Oak Harbor school officials wait and see

Oak Harbor school officials are in a wait-and-see mode over looming March 1 sequestration, which could mean hundreds of thousands of federal dollars cut from the district’s coffers.

Because leaders don’t know how much money may be eliminated, they aren’t able to develop the budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

“We don’t know enough to incorporate state and federal funding into our budget process,” Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Rick Schulte said.

A report released this week by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen highlighted the reductions that will happen in the Puget Sound Region should automatic federal spending cuts, commonly known as sequestration, take place.

Title I funds, which provides dollars for programs designed to help low-income students, would be cut by 5 percent. For the 2012 budget year, the Oak Harbor School District received $773,000 in Title I funds and the Coupeville School District received $108,000 in Title I funds, according to the report released by Larsen.

The report states that the Oak Harbor School District could lose an additional $500,000 in Impact Aid for the remainder of the current school year, as well as $1 million in Impact Aid for the 2013-2014 school year. Impact Aid is federal funding for school districts that have a large population of students from families that live on military property.

Schulte, along with board members Christine Abbott and Christine Cribb and assistant superintendent Lance Gibbon, are traveling to Washington D.C. Monday to participate in the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools spring conference.

During their visit to the nation’s capital, they will also meet with federal lawmakers. The trip comes after the March 1 sequestration deadline, but before the current stop-gap continuing resolution expires.

Schulte said he has two goals for his trip to Washington D.C. He wants to find more information that will help budgeting and staff projections. He also wants to communicate with lawmakers about the effect the automatic spending cuts would have on the district’s neediest students.

He estimated that the school district could lose around $300,000 through cuts to a variety of programs that help low income students, English language learners and special education.


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