Schools brace for fall from fiscal cliff


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

MURRAY, Ky.---On the chopping block; federal funding for special-needs and low-income students.
Here's a specific example using Murray Independent School District.
Their total special education budget is about 600-thousand dollars a year.
That's state and federal funding for special needs and low income kids.
If we fall off the fiscal cliff the school district will get 80-thousand dollars less.
Money that will have to be "made up" somewhere, possibly at the expense of children who need help the most
"I'm learning how to do a big full landing and a back tuck," 16-year-old Hannah Babcock said.
Doesn't let her intellectual disability hold her back in gymnastics class or anywhere else.

"It's like life," Babcock said.

And it's usually not easy. When she falls?

"I get back up again and keep doing it," Babcock said.

"Very proud of Hannah, she's achieved a lot against the odds," Hannah's mom, Pam Rockwell said.

Like any mother, Hannah's mom loves seeing her daughter succeed. 

At school, she's taught in regular classes with her friends and is a very ambitious student reporter.

But Rockwell admits her daughter has received a lot of help from her school along the way.

"Without those supports, she wouldn't have achieved at the level that she's been able to achieve," Rockwell said.

"All of these are programs that help children that most need the help," Murray Schools Superintendent Bob Rogers said.

He said his district could lose 80-thousand dollars in special education funding, creating a devastating budget crunch.
He said he might have to let some staff members go, people that Rockwell says her daughter can't afford to lose.
Rogers says he usually cuts staff members first, because staff members make up about 75 percent of his school district's budget.
The superintendent says every district will be forced to find the money somewhere. 
 So that means different things for different districts.     
Some schools may cut arts and humanities classes, others could make students pay to participate in sports. 
All the superintendents Local 6 spoke with were worried and unsure exactly how or where they'd find the money.
Rogers said the possible cuts are made worse by recent state funding cuts. 
The district has already reduced extended school services, professional development, and they've bought no new books in four years.  Teachers haven't had raises in three years.