West Orange school officials are under a deadline to submit the 2013-2014 school budget to the county next week with uncertainty whether $85 billion in federal "sequestration" spending cuts will be stopped by Congress before Friday.
The West Orange School district will learn its state aid figures on Thursday after Gov. Chris Christie delivered his fiscal year 2014 budget address Tuesday afternoon.
"As always with cuts to education aid, we will try to find ways that impact students in the classroom the least,' Interim Superintendent of Schools James O'Neill said.
The release of the state aid figures triggers a sequence of events related to the budget process, including the West Orange Board of Education approving the proposed school budget on March 6. The budget is due for review to the county next week.
New Jersey could lose nearly $12 million in funding for primary and secondary education if Congress fails to halt the “sequestration” by Friday, according to figures released by the White House.
"Cuts of that dimension are inevitably going to impact the schools in West Orange," O'Neill said. "I suspect our Title One funds would be most severely impacted."
Without action from Congress, the sequester would go into effect automatically on March 1, reducing spending by the state in a number of areas, including education, the environment, health, military and law enforcement, the White House said.
O'Neill explained when there are significant cuts such as these, the district will look closely at extracurricular programs, staffing, transportation or any new programs proposed for next year.
"It is impossible to be more specific since we have no idea of the actual dollars we are talking about," O'Neill added.
The cuts, according to the Obama administration, could jeopardize 160 teacher and aide jobs in New Jersey, as well as cut funding to 60 schools and 15,000 students.
Funding would be cut to the early childhood education program Head Start, vaccination programs for children and health services for seniors, among other things, and thousands of civilian Department of Defense employees could be furloughed, according to the White House.
The total federal spending cuts under the sequester plan add up to about $1.2 trillion over the next nine years.
Republicans have accused the president of using the impending cuts for political gain.
President Barack Obama's plan asks for increased tax revenues to offset some of the trillion-dollar cuts.