August 14, 2013

Sequestration could hamstring Parshall schools

Sequestration could hamstring Parshall schools
By Jerry W. Kram
Sequestration – automatic budget cuts that go into force if Congress doesn’t pass a budget – could have negative long term implications for schools like Parshall unless something changes, according to School Superintendent John Weidner.
Weidner is trying to galvanize support to get Congress – more specifically the House of Representatives – to exempt Impact Aid, also known as Title 8, from the mandated sequester cuts. According to Weidner, Impact Aid makes up about 20 percent of the Parshall School District’s revenue. Every time Congress passes a bill funding the government without passing a budget, a process called a continuing resolution, Parshall’s funding takes an automatic cut. Weidner said March’s budget deal in D.C. was a $150,000 hit to Parshall’s budget.
“The thing about Impact Aid is that out of all the different funding sources, it is the only one that is funded for the current year,” Weidner said. “Other programs are funded for the coming year, so if there’s a cut it goes into effect the following year. For Impact Aid, it happens right now. The next cut will happen in October if Congress doesn’t do something.”
Weidner emphasized that Impact Aid is not a social program. It was begun during the Truman Administration to compensate local schools for federal property located in their district, which is exempt from property taxes. The funding is meant to replace the missing property taxes and is critical for communities that host large military bases and Indian Reservations with federal trust land. Parshall Schools normally get about $900,000 in Impact Aid. With the uncertainty of what is happening in Congress this year, Weidner is budgeting for just $550,000.
“It’s really the Feds paying their property taxes,” Weidner said. “


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