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Sequestration Effects: 59 Percent of Districts Cut Professional Development

Perhaps the cuts weren't quite as bad as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan predicted, but sequestration is still hitting classrooms as districts begin the 2013-14 school year.

According to a new survey from the American Association of School Administrators, districts are dealing with automatic, across-the-board trigger cuts of federal education funding by slicing professional development (59 percent of districts), eliminating personnel (53 percent), increasing class size (48 percent), and deferring technology purchases (46 percent).

The data come from 541 survey respondents from 48 states, questioned by AASA earlier this summer.

The professional development cuts come at a critical time for K-12 education, as states and districts across the country are implementing the common standards and preparing for new tests aligned to those tougher standards. All told, the cuts amount to about 5 percent of federal education funds.

The survey also predicts that more long-term damage from sequestration could result. One example, per the report, from a respondent in Virgina: "The largest impact in our state was the Head Start Program, which was fortunately mitigated by an increase in state funds. If not for the state funding increase, we would have been required to cut one teacher and one aide, which would have resulted in the loss of 17 slots for low‐income children. Crisis averted—for this year. However, we will NOT have any such 'fall back' opportunities in the future."

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