Sequester will have big impacts on South Dakota education - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Sequester will have big impacts on South Dakota education

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It's being called the sequester and if the March 1st deadline passes, many federally-funded programs will se major cuts.

Here in South Dakota, that would include the Head Start Program, nutrition assistance for senior citizens and education funding. That's why South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) wants to minimize any cuts made to schools.

It has only been two years since the state's education system took big cuts, so when it comes to the possibility of more cuts, the SDEA says: "no more"!

"Our schools are struggling to get out of the hole, from two years ago, and the sequester would only add to that challenge. We're very concerned with the cuts and how the sequester could impact our classrooms," SDEA Director of Government Relations and Communications Sandra Waltman said.

Education and support systems would take a cut of more than $10.3 million. Special education programs, alone, would take a hit of $1.7 million with the potential to impact more than 16,000 students.  

"We want to be fiscally responsible but the sequestration is not necessary. We need Congress to take a look at the across-the-board cuts and realize that some of the things are essential to our education here in South Dakota," Waltman said.

Over at Augustana College, economics professor Dr. Robert Wright looks at federal dollars like a double-edged sword.

"On one hand, it's nice to have. On the other, it forces us to do things we might not want to do. If the federal government is going to decrease the amount of money, that should give us more autonomy to decide our own policies for ourselves," Dr. Robert Wright said.

Until Friday, Waltman - like thousands across the state - will be hoping Congress finds another way.

"Just as we're looking to our lawmakers to get out of the hole from the cuts two years ago, this looming over their heads is making it difficult to move forward," Waltman said. "We want to reach a responsible budget deal but it's unnecessary and it's impacting our students."

If you're feeling the same concerns, Waltman encourages us to contact our local lawmakers and encourage them to find another way towards fiscal health that won't have drastic impacts on South Dakota's teachers and students.

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