Schools across the Goshen area receive federal funds to help low-income students through several programs. In Goshen, Superintendent Diane Woodworth believes it will be some time until school administrators know the extent of the budget reduction’s impact.
“The most that could impact Goshen Schools would be Title I funding, Title II and Title III funding,” Woodworth said. “But it looks like it would be more in the fall. I think from what I’ve seen so far, they realize that we already have staff in place and that they would allow us to finish the year. So it would be some cuts for next year.”
Title I is a federal program to assist schools with high numbers of students from low-income families. All seven of Goshen’s elementary schools are now designated as Title I schools.
“We use (those funds) to provide additional tutoring services and supplies and materials,” Woodworth said. “So it’s a lot of staff people. If the cuts go through, we might have to scale that back and look at doing more with less. We’d have to make a hard decision maybe to cut services in all seven, or maybe go back to five.”
Some local students benefit from the Head Start early childhood education program that is also paid for with federal funds. That preschool program is geared toward helping low-income families.
“As far as what might happen with that,” Woodworth said, “I think we’d probably be looking at (fewer) classrooms.
Goshen Schools has six Head Start sessions split between morning and afternoon session in three classrooms.
The Elkhart County Highway Department uses some federal funds for local road and bridge construction projects, according to Superintendent Jeff Taylor. However, those funds have been fixed in federal legislation.
“I don’t think it will have any impact at all,” Taylor said. “The money the county receives in respect to highways is in a transportation bill that was passed. It was a two-year bill. I don’t think sequestration affects that. I think that is going to be safe.
Still, there’s uncertainty.
“Who knows what Washington is going to inevitably do,” Taylor said. “ There’s a lot of game-playing on both sides of the aisle. They could cut the transportation bill to make a statement. Who knows?”
He said Elkhart County has five projects scheduled that will use federal funds. Two of those projects are intersections, two are bridges and one is a bike trail. About $5 million in federal funding is involved. Some of the projects are budgeted for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 and wouldn’t be impacted by this year’s cuts.
Another local service, air traffic control, will also be unscathed. According to Goshen Municipal Airport manager Randy Sharkey, business at the airport will continue as usual.
“Locally here at the Goshen airport we will not feel any impact from the sequester at all,” Sharkey said.
That’s because the airport is not a controlled airport.
But the Federal Aviation Administration will cut back on air traffic control operations at smaller airports, those with less than 150,000 operations per year Sharkey said. The Associated Press reported Thursday that air traffic control towers at Gary, Muncie, Bloomington, Terre Haute, Columbus and West Lafayette might close due to the cuts.