Education

Valley educators bracing for steep cuts

Monday, February 25, 2013

As the clock ticks toward the deadline with no apparent deal in sight, the White House issued a memo about what specifically will go on the chopping block, and it looks like public education would be among the hardest hit.

With only days to go until the sequester kicks in, Valley educators are bracing themselves for steep cuts.

Tamala Olsby is concerned young children will suffer if lawmakers can't compromise. Olsby is the director of Head Start, the federally funded program designed to get 3-to-5-year-olds ready for kindergarten. She says if the $85 billion in budget cuts kick in nationwide as scheduled next week, the Valley pre-school program for low-income families will also take a massive hit.

Olsby said, "Between Head Start and Early Head start we'd lose $2.7 million so that's huge."

And losing those dollars Olsby says will hurt local children.

"It would be an 8.2% cut," said Olsby. "That is 273 children that I could not serve."

A Valley representative for the program is now meeting with both republicans and democrats in the nation's capital to urge them to come to a compromise.

Olsby said, "We've made no certain plans because I'm still hoping for the ninth hour save."

Fresno Unified Superintendent, Michael Hansen is also worried about how a sequester will impact kids of all ages in the district.

Hansen said, "We would do our level best as a leadership team if and when that comes to our doorstep to catch it and make sense of it in a way that has the least impact on our kids and maintain our programs but a cut, is a cut, is a cut."

At a news conference on Monday morning, Hansen didn't have many specifics about how the district will adjust if those cuts actually do roll out.

But if no compromise is reached, he is urging lawmakers in Washington D.C. to be transparent, so teachers can plan early.

"Tell us what the problem is early, give us maximum flexibility to solve it and then get out of our way," explained Hansen.

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fresno, fresno county, education, mariana jacob
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