Sequester could have major impact on Lowcountry schools

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - South Carolina could lose $12.5 million in funding if sequestration cuts are made at the end of the week.

Michele English-Watson, the executive director of federal programs for Charleston County School District, says the programs that benefit low-income students and those with disabilities will be impacted the most by the cuts.

"I'm very worried because its could mean cuts in programs and of course principals in schools have such wonderful programs in place and it's like having the rug pulled out from under you," she said.

The district received a letter from the state Department of Education telling them to expect a 5-to-10 percent cut to the amount of federal dollars for next school year if the sequestration isn't stopped.

She says the Title 1 programs would feel the most impact. She says the programs include helping keep smaller class sizes, after-school programs, and purchasing books.

Charleston and Greenville counties are the two largest school districts in the state and have the highest level poverty, which means the impact could be greater on those communities that depend on Title 1 programs.

"Title 1 is federal dollars that come into the state, comes down to the local districts, intended for high poverty schools," she said. "In Charleston County schools, we have approximately 47 schools that are at 70 percent poverty level and above."

If the sequester is not averted, the decreased funding will be reflected in next school year's budget.

"I guess what bothers me the most right now is here we are cutting education in the United States where in other countries across the world they are doubling their investments into education, and so it makes hard for us to be in that global race," she said.