If a series of budget cuts known as "sequestration" takes effect, it would be a crippling blow to the public education system, national education leaders said Wednesday.
The first round of cuts will occur Jan. 2, 2013, if congress does not come up with another way to reduce the federal budget deficit, and as a result, school districts stand to lose $82,000 for every $1 million in federal funds, said Deborah Rigsby, federal legislation director for the National School Boards Association.
Harford County asked for $26.2 million in federal funds for the 2012–2013 school year, which accounted for for 4.8 percent of its budget.
"The sequestration fund cuts could result in high class sizes, reduced programming and the consolidation or closing of libraries," Rigsby said, speaking at a Wednesday afternoon media teleconference. She noted that Title I and special education programming would be impacted.
School districts could feel the cuts as early as the 2013-2014 school year.
"Education may be one of the fatalities that results from sequestration," said C. Ed Massey, the National School Boards Association's president.
Massey said the cuts would cripple years of progress the public education system has made in boosting student achievement.
Maryland State Department of Education spokesman William Reinhard, who did not participate in the teleconference, said the state faces more than $35 million in cuts that would impact approximately 80,000 students.
"We've told our [county school] systems to prepare for the worst, hope for the best," Reinhard said. "The results would be difficult to overcome."