Board weighs in on sequestration issue

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Education: LAPS joins chorus warning about fiscal cliff issues

By Tris DeRoma

It may seem like a small gesture, but the Los Alamos Board of Education took time from a busy agenda this week to add its voice to the many school boards across the nation concerned about the “sequestration” issue.

The board’s passed a resolution, which urges the U.S. Congress and the president to protect public education against a proposed budget action that will cut $1.2 trillion in spending over the next decade. The law was passed last summer, and is due to go in effect Jan. 1.  

The resolution is for the school board to call on senators and representatives and tell them that we oppose sequestration,” school board member Dawn Venhaus said of the action. “We oppose this 20 percent cut across the board and that they need to make a deal.”

“The Los Alamos School Board urges Congress and the administration to amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness,” the last section of the resolution stated.

If the school board passed it, then it would be forward to Los Alamos representatives in congress, Venhaus said.

Created by the National School Board Association, members of the board characterized the resolution as a request for legislators work together and use common sense when it comes to legislation that had a direct impact on local education budgets.

One of the paragraphs in the resolution pointed out that federal funding for K-12 programs has already been reduced by more than $835 million in fiscal year 2011 and that state and local funding continues to be negatively impacted by budget cuts.

“What I see here is a reminder of the responsibility of our congressional delegation to do their work,” LAPS Superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt said.

Ellen Mills, president of the Los Alamos Federation of School Employees, told the board that if it did pass, she doesn’t think Los Alamos’ congressional representatives will have any problem supporting the resolution.

“I think our New Mexico congressional delegate will back us a 100 percent on this,” she said. “They’ve always been very supportive of funding public education in a sufficient manner if not more.”

She thought it was an ideal way to get the message across to the delegates that this is what school boards in New Mexico think and should be talking about in Washington.

With that, the board passed the resolution unanimously.