Sequester Cuts Felt in American Classrooms

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Those automatic spending cuts, known in Washington and beyond as the "sequester," just won't go away. And unless Congress stops it from happening, the "sequester" will kick in this Friday.

Factory floors and federal buildings might see fewer employees, but classrooms will also see fewer teachers, meaning larger class sizes for students. Programs like Head Start and Title 1, funded largely by federal money, will take the biggest hit, sending budgetary shortfalls to all corners of the country.

That's forcing administrators like Don Schmidt and Martha Peek to begin thinking about what these cuts will do to their school districts. Don Schmidt is the assistant superintendent for student, family and community services at Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas. Martha Peek is the superintendent of Mobile County Public Schools in Mobile, Alabama. 

Peek paints a bleak picture of the consequences on her school district: "It will impact those students who are most at-risk because it will be the federal funds that fund programs for at-risk students who are economically deprived. Also, our special education students." According to Schmidt, his district will take a hit to occupational therapists, aides, physical therapists, and more: "It’s going to be the quality, because we’re going to have fewer people spread over a much larger territory."

Peek says that the these sequestration cuts compound four years of budget reductions due to the economy that have already spread resources thin. "With the sequestration and loss of funds on top of that, it will really impact the quality that we can provide."

"It does affect us drastically. It affects down to the individual classroom," Schmidt says.