Open Standard Media Player version 1.3
PROCTOR - Just days remain until $85–million in automatic nationwide
budget cuts will take effect, possibly threatening hundreds of thousands of
jobs and cutting into vital educational services for children.
"Certainly it's not going to be 100–percent of that $500,000
but if it's 10–percent it's $50,000. And if it's 20–percent we're talking about
$100,000 shortfall that we have to make up," said John Engelking,
superintendent of Proctor Public Schools.
The Proctor School District receives around $350,000 every
year in federal funding for its special education program and another $150,000
for title programs. These students would lose valuable one–on–one instruction
and other interventions to close achievement gaps.
And despite any funding reductions, under law, schools would
still be responsible for providing the same services.
"We won't be able to do anything other than make sure
that our kids get the services that they need and then we have to pick up that
tab," said Engelking.
Other areas that could be affected by the federal mandates
include Duluth’s growing airport.
"Duluth is one of 60 air traffic control towers
nationwide that are proposed to have their hours limited due to employee
furlough," said Tom Werner, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority.
The Duluth Airport Authority says the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has a plan in place that would close the operation of its traffic control
towers nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
While that doesn't necessarily mean the loss of jobs, it's
not without impact.
"The Duluth Airport Authority will need to make a
substantial capital investment in the infrastructure needed to allow folks in
the cockpit, pilots to remotely activate navigational aids and lighting and
other things," said Werner.
Both Republicans and Democrats are struggling to find the
right mix between tax increases and spending cuts.
Meanwhile, schools and those in aviation say absorbing the
potential costs on such short notice could be detrimental to our future.
Engelking said, "We’ve been kind of fortunate to still
maintain the types of programs that we do at Proctor Public Schools, but we
certainly don't want to have to pick up any slack and make any changes,
especially as it impacts our special education and our title programs."
In addition to education and airports around the country, another
impact would be felt in public safety through each state's Office of Justice.
The Duluth Police Department says local programs that could
be affected include crime victim services, drug and violent crime task forces
and juvenile justice and delinquency funding.