If sequestration goes into effect Friday, Baltimore County Public Schools will be feeling a major pinch through job losses and cuts to program spending over the next two years as the system works to reign in spending.
Various media outlets have reported that federal education funds would be strongly impacted by the $1.2 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts—mandated by the 2011 deficit reduction law—over a 10-year span that will occur absent Congressional intervention.
Barbara Burnopp, chief financial officer for the school system, said BCPS officials anticipate taking an approximate 7 to 10 percent hit to the system's budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which would be around $4.6 million. However, a more precise figure will be provided to the system by the Maryland State Department of Education in about 30 days.
"You won't see immediate impacts in the short term, but we are anticipating long term impacts [over the next two years]," Burnopp said.
In line with nationwide challenges for programs, she said Title I and special education would face the biggest difficulties.
"We would need to make a lot of changes to sustain the programs in the long term," she said.
According to a news release from the National School Boards Action Center, special education and Title I will see $726 million and $579 million in cuts respectively over the 10-year span throughout the country.
Teaching jobs would also be affected, though an exact number of job losses in Baltimore County is not yet known.
"We would have to downsize," she said.
The National School Boards Action Center conducted a poll asking school board members across the county to share how many job losses they would expect for the 2013-2014 school year. The majority reported that up to 10 layoffs would occur, with larger districts anticipating significantly more.
Nationally, the federal Head Start early education program for low-income families would also see an estimated $398 million loss—the third biggest cut—according to the release. Baltimore County does not participate in this effort.
School contruction and improvement—a hotly-discussed topic locally—as well as general "maintenance of effort" initiatives, will not suffer, as they are funded through local and state revenue sources, Burnopp said.