With the possibility of sequestration by the federal government becoming more and more likely as the week goes on, local officials are preparing for drastic cuts to their funding.
Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman and the West Deptford School District are prepared for such cuts. During Saturday's school-budget work session, Kitchenman acknowledged sequestration in his presentation to the school board.
On Friday, March 1, more than $85 billion in sequestration spending cuts will take place if Congress does not pass legislation that finds a solution to stop it.
Kitchenman said he anticipated cuts in funding as he put the budget together.
“We were giving a directive to budget only 70 percent of what we received the previous year,” he said about the federal funds. “That directive went out to all school districts in the state.”
Kitchenman said the district had already received the federal grant money for the year. However, he said his concern is for next year, where the school district could see a massive funding cut if sequestration goes through on Friday.
Compounding the cuts in federal funding, Kitchenman also warned the board on Saturday about possible cuts in state aid. While Saturday's proposed budget had accounted for state aid being the same as in the 2011-12 budget, Kitchenman said that there's a definite chance that a cut in state aid could affect how much of the budget comes out of the West Deptford taxpayers' pockets.
The school district will know by Thursday how much state aid it will receive, Kitchenan said.
Kitchenman presented a preliminary school district budget for 2013-14 on Saturday that included a tax rate increase of 9.90¢ for every $100 of assessed value for West Deptford property owners. The increased tax rate was mostly due to a large drop in the overall value of ratables, or taxable properties, in the township.