LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)—Wisconsin's schools and the environment would be among the state's biggest losers if automatic federal budget cuts take hold this week, according to a report the Obama administration issued Sunday as it seeks to avoid the impending economic fallout.
The White House compiled the numbers from federal agencies and its own budget office. The numbers reflect the impact of the sequester this year. Unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect from March-September.
As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House did not have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.
Wisconsin would lose about $8.5 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting about 120 teacher and aide jobs at risk. Roughly 50 fewer schools would get funding.
About $10.1 million in funding would be cut for 120 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities.
"It's always our goal not to (layoff teachers)," Randy Nelson, La Crosse Superintendent said. "We always hope that before it comes time for us to reduce our staff that we have retirements and we can do some adjustments through attrition."
School Districts of Onalaska and La Crosse said if the sequester takes effect, they're facing about a ten-percent cut in federal funding.
Programs that could see cuts are reading and math intervention programs, staff development and special education.
Nelson said if La Crosse loses $650,000 each year, about ten percent, the district will do its best to make sure the quality of education is not affected.
"If this funding was to go away and we have to reorganize ourselves," Nelson said. "We have to reorganize ourselves, It may not be as easy, it may not be as efficient it may not be as good for kids but at the end of the day we're still focused on helping out students."
Nelson said federal funding is important to a district because it's used to help students who are falling behind and he says they've found the best way to do that is one on one help.
He said it's too early to know the full scope of the impacts because they don't have the governor's budget; he said they'll know more in about eight weeks.
Associated Press contributed to the contents of this article.
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