Now that the weekend has passed and the first working day of post-sequester America has let the working world glimpse what the future may look like, initial reports suggest that the effects of the mandatory budget cuts are hitting home even quicker than originally expected. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has already said that the wait time at airports and flight delays have already grown due to a mandatory cutback on custom official’s overtime due to the sequester. This will only get worse as the cuts filter down to TSA employees. Unfortunately, travel delays are not the only areas that are going to see the effects very quickly. While delayed flights are very public, they are essentially a nuisance to travelers at this point. The impact of sequestration has been just as swift in another area that can have much more serious consequences: the schools that serve the children of U.S. military personnel.
The schools that serve the military bases and educate the children of those who are sworn to protect our country are especially vulnerable to the sequester cuts as they rely heavily for federal funding. Even when these schools are not located on a military base, they receive a much higher share of federal funding due to the lack of property taxes from the land that the base sits on. The local funding for most public schools comes from property taxes and these schools that sit outside of military bases cannot rely on this as much of the territory that they cover is federal land and thus not subject to property taxes. Since the children educated at these schools are largely the children of military personnel and the lack of tax revenue is due to federal ownership of the base, the federal government gives them special funding so that they have the funds that they need to operate.
Sequestration has been quick to attack this revenue stream for these schools and many are scrambling to not only protect the future but to even continue and finish the current school year. While much of the cuts from sequestration will not be felt until the next school year, schools that cover federal land, such as military schools, and those that serve tribal lands rely on Impact Aid to cover property tax revenue loss. This Impact Aid has been affected immediately and will be cut by around $60 million this school year alone.
These schools are left to cope with the immediate effects of sequestration by increasing class sizes to lower faculty and save on salaries or even cut after-school programs and athletics. They are dipping into their reserve funds just to keep operating through the end of the year. With sequestration already in place, however, these schools face an even bleaker budget next school year. Unlike many schools, however, the schools that serve our military are being forced to utilize reserve funding this year which gives them even less leeway for the coming year.
I’m sure that the politicians will be focused on the flight delays and waiting time at the airports but this is an even more urgent situation that needs immediate attention. These are the schools that serve our government. Is it really too much to ask that our government serve the school and military children as well?