Local programs to be cut during sequester

HOUGHTON – The sequestration of federal spending is having effects locally, including with childhood education programs, according to Pat Rozich.

Rozich, who is BHK Child Development Board director, said he expects there will be cuts of $170,000 in the federally provided $3.4 million grant to local Head Start programs for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year.

However, Rozich said the BHK board of directors and staff are working to make certain the cuts come from areas which won’t significantly affect children.

“We expect to dodge this bullet without harming any classroom situations,” he said. “It’s not as devastating as it could have been.”

Because members of Congress and President Barack Obama were not able to agree on how to avoid spending cuts forced by the Budget Control Act passed in August 2011, the sequestration, or mandatory cuts, which will total $1.2 trillion, began Monday.

Unless members of Congress can agree on a way to prevent further spending cuts, they could continue until 2021.

Cuts at BHK will be made in such things as training trips, Rozich said.

The BHK board of directors is currently working to reduce a large deficit the program has, and it is being efficient with spending in many areas.

“We’re watching our food costs very diligently,” he said. “The staff and teachers have been wonderful (with finding ways to save money).”

Rozich said he will know exactly what the BHK deficit is when the audit is completed in the next couple weeks, but he knows already spending is down 30 percent from the same time last year.

“We have stabilized very significantly,” he said.

Rozich said BHK uses a High Scope curriculum for 404 children 3 to 5 years old in 29 classrooms in the Copper Country Intermediate School District.

“We have a highly trained and skilled staff,” he said.

Great Explorations, which provides after-school and summer programing, is going to be affected by the sequestration, also, but Rozich said the GE director, Cheryl Mills, hasn’t yet been told how much will be cut.

“They have received no solid information from anywhere,” he said.

Rozich said planning for the next school year will be difficult because of the uncertainty of continued funding.

“We have no clue as to what they might do next year,” he said.

Rozich said he’s frustrated members of Congress and the president can’t get together to figure out how to resolve the sequestration issue because it’s hurting children.

“These kids are our future,” he said. “I don’t know why people are messing around.”