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Belleville Superintendent Optimistic About Sequestration's Impact

Districts across New Jersey await state aid figures this week with uncertainty.

The Belleville Schools face the deadline to submit the 2013-2014 budget to the county next week with uncertainty as to whether $85 billion in federal "sequestration" spending cuts will be stopped by Congress before Friday. 

The release of the state aid figures triggers a sequence of events related to the budget process. The budget is due to the county for review 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. 

Mrs. Helene A. Feldman, Interim Superintendent of Belleville Schools, said that sequestration cuts would impact the district.

"The biggest impact for us would be on the no child left behind funding, teacher evaluations and supplementing of special education," Feldman said.

Nonetheless, Feldman expressed optimism about Belleville's ability to weather the loss of funding sequestration would entail by virtue of money received through state aid.

"As I’ve been reading the broadcasts, it looks like we’re going to get additional state," Feldman said.

The Belleville School District received 25,130,065 in state aid for 2012-13, the largest dollar increase among Essex County's 22 districts that year. That amount represented a $1,366,397 increase for the district after getting 23,763,668 in 2011-12.

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.

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 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.

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