The National School Boards Association warns that congressional inaction could force the implementation of sequestration provisions, causing critical harm to the public education system.
At a Wednesday afternoon media teleconference, Deborah Rigsby, the organization's director of federal legislation, said that if legistlators did not take action before the first round of cuts take places on Jan. 2, 2013, public education will stand to lose more than $4 billion over the next 10 years nationwide in federal funding. Ostensibly, she said, school districts would lose $82,000 for every $1 million provided at the federal level for programming including Title I and special education.
"The sequestration fund cuts could result in high class sizes, reduced programming and the consolidation or closing of libraries," she said.
School districts may feel the impact of 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 association's president and a member of the school board for Boone County in Kentucky.
Massey said the cuts would cripple the years of progress the public education system has made in boosting student achievement.
"Certainly education is not an area you want to cut, it's a civil right," he said.
John Pennycuff, a school board member in Ohio, said his state expects approximately $114 million in cuts over the 10 years sequestration policies would be enforced.
"We've already cut and cut to where we can't cut anymore without causing egregious harm."
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."