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Published April 11, 2013, 10:46 PM

Sequester could hurt MN special education needs

Special education programs in Minnesota could be the most affected by the sequester. Cuts are estimated to cost Minnesota more than 90 million dollars just this year, but local schools are trying to prevent that possibility by pulling funds from other programs.

Special education programs in Minnesota could be the most affected by the sequester. Cuts are estimated to cost Minnesota more than 90 million dollars just this year, but local schools are trying to prevent that possibility by pulling funds from other programs.

Roughly 20 percent of students in the Crookston school district benefit from special education. Luckily, officials can transfer funds from other programs, but it's the Tri-County Head Start that will take a major hit, at a cost of 500,000 dollars.

Western Minnesota school districts have been preparing for these cuts for about a year now.

Chris Bates, Crookston Superintendent: "This is kind of the world we live in right now, we have the money, we don't have the money, the cuts are coming, the cuts are not coming, and it's kind of hard to plan."

But Crookston schools plan anyway. Bates says luckily he won't have to cut staff, but he's going to have to scale back.

Chris: "Some other programs are going to be shortchanged because of this, without question."

And whether other programs like head start are altered or cut completely, it's not just the families who are impacted.

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council CEO Dennis DeMers says these cuts are real. He's estimating that 55 children won't receive education through Head Start because of sequester cuts. He says the concern from parents is never ending.

DeMers: "Is it going to be my child, is it going to be me? What's the process going to be, how are we going to do this?"

Both DeMers and Bates say it's disheartening to know that programs which provide a necessity to a special needs children are on the chopping block and now they're crossing their fingers for a miracle.

Bates: "We're hoping the legislature can figure this out and we'll get the money and we won't have to subsidize the special ed students."

Of course these numbers are still up in the air a lot of unknowns remaining, but as the year goes on it becomes more real.

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