The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a bill Tuesday extending funding for federal agencies through mid-December. If it reaches the President’s desk, the bill would avert a government shutdown this week, but we could find ourselves back here again in just a few months.
That has some schools on edge.
The last government shutdown two years ago cut off aid to Head Start preschool programs in 10 states, leaving thousands of families scrambling for daycare, says Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association. Programs whose annual grants start this Thursday are bracing for that possibility again.
“We cannot continue this stopgap approach to budgeting,” Vinci says. “Even if it is averted this week, we may find ourselves in the exact same place again in the middle of December.”
A shutdown could also leave schools that rely on federal Impact Aid short on cash. That program helps fund schools on military bases and on American Indian lands.
David McVicker is superintendent of Central Kitsap school district in Silverdale, Washington, which relies on at least $4.5 million each year from the program. The last time around the district simply stopped spending.
“If there were any supplies that were needed, if there were any additional expenditures that needed to occur, we just had to say ‘No,'” McVicker says. “You’ve got a toilet that you’re going to replace – we didn’t replace anything.”
The Department of Education has a contingency plan in case of a shutdown. More than 90 percent of its staff would be furloughed for the first week.
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