Educators Urge Congress to Return Sequestered Funds - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Educators Urge Congress to Return Sequestered Funds

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MISSOULA -

Sequestration slashed billions of dollars in funding for federal education programs like Title I, special ed., and Head Start.

Now, educators said there's an opportunity to regain those lost dollars by urging Congress to end sequestration cuts.

In Montana, education programs lost about $26 million dollars in the sequester.

Educators said a preliminary budget for the 2014 fiscal year will move through the House and Senate this week, and Montanans should urge political leaders to send funds back to education.

Melanie Charlson, the Montana Director of the National Education Association, said Title 1, special education and Head Start took the biggest hits in Montana.

"Those students are desperately in need, and the feds are not stepping up and assisting those students who qualify for those services," she said.

Charlson said Title 1-- a federal program ensuring kids from low-income families have access to education-- lost $3 million in funding in Montana.

"Those children haven't moved away, they're still in need, and they're still in need of services," Charlson said.

That $3 million paid for paraprofessionals, counselors, and reading specialists who worked with students one-on-one.

She added, "So, reduced services mostly in those reading and math areas, which are critical areas in education for those Title I students."

Special education funding also dropped by about $3 million statewide, and Head Start programs lost $6 million.

"So, we will have to find other programs to cut, so that we can service those children here in Missoula," Charlson said.

But, she said on Tuesday night, the House and Senate Budget Committee presented a deal that would eliminate $63 billion in sequester cuts.

"I mean, we could provide so much more to our students, and especially those who are in the highest need."

Charlson said the bill will pass through the House and Senate this week. She says she hopes Montana leaders will vote in favor of replacing 87% of the cuts to education.

"Please support the end of sequestration cuts and replace the funding to education to help our kids here in Montana," she said.

To learn how to contact state leaders, click here.

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