Facing The Sequester: What It Would Mean For Washington Schools? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Facing The Sequester: What It Would Mean For Washington Schools?

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SPOKANE, Wash – Funding for education is one of the biggest things on the chopping block, if the so-called "sequester" budget crisis isn't resolved in Washington D.C.

According to a report from the White House, Washington "will lose approximately $11,606,000 in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 160 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 11,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 50 fewer schools would receive funding." 

On top of that, the report states "Washington will lose approximately $11,251,000 in funds for about 140 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities."

Money the Spokane Guilds' School and Neuromuscular Center can't afford to lose.

"I'd say we're at the end of the rope. If some of these cuts come through, it just means some of these kids aren't going to get service. It's just that simple," said Executive Director Dick Boysen.

One of the 138 children enrolled at the Guilds' School is Brody Baumann.  At a young age, he began showing signs of developmental disabilities.  He couldn't sit up on his own, and was getting a number of ear infections.  While he hasn't been formally diagnosed, his father says he may have autism or a neurological problem.

"You just feel so blessed to have a child, and slowly but surely you notice something's not right, and you feel really helpless," his father, Kyle Baumann told KHQ.

Children at the Guilds' School may have autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, hearing or vision impairments, or even a history of being abused.

"The ones that live - we put them back together," Boysen added.

He said funding has been shrinking for years, and the seven sources of government funding the school gets only covers 2/3 of the budget; they have to privately raise the rest ($1 million) every year to simply stay open.

And if that budget picture got any worse, the school would be at a breaking point.

"Since 90% of our expense is salaries, you know what would happen, we've got to lose people if these cuts come through," Boysen said.  "So it would be devastating."

Devastating to the school – and its families – who've already come so far.

In the seven months Brody has been there, he's made big advances, including interacting with tablets, making more eye contact, trying to walk and trying to talk.

"It's great because we know that he's learning and he's progressing," Baumann said.

"I don't know what the solution is, but the solution is not to take services away from little kids.  I do know that," Boysen said.

Head Start also put out a press release about the sequester, saying it's bracing for an across-the-board 5.3% budget cut. 

The Plummer Worley School District in Idaho is also speaking out against the sequester, calling it "not right, not fair, and inconceivable."

To learn more about the cuts that may come if no resolution is reached, visit:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sequester-factsheets/Washington.pdf

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sequester-factsheets/Idaho.pdf

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