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Effects of Shutdown on CT Education Could Be Limited

The state’s school lunch nutrition program isn’t forward funded like some other federal grants, and therefore will be among the first to feel the effects of the government shutdown should it last more than a couple of weeks.

It’s likely that the federal shutdown won’t have a severe impact on Connecticut public education if—and it’s a big if—the shutdown lasts what the state’s top education official calls “a short number of weeks” or less.

At today’s meeting of the State Board of Education, the federal shutdown was a focus since the State Department of Education (SDE) administers more than $44 million per month connected with 30 federal programs.

Based on today’s State Board discussion Washington is ahead with appropriations supporting the largest federal programs. The school lunch nutrition program is cause for concern, however.

The largest federal grants to the state — Perkins, IDEA, and Title I grants — have the potential to be unaffected because appropriations have already occurred, according to Pryor.  School lunch nutrition programs funded by the Department of Agriculture are not similarly forward funded.

“If the shutdown lasts days or a short number of weeks the likelihood is that we can rely on lapsed funds to sustain the program. We’re still analyzing impacts beyond that time period,” said Pryor.

Pryor said that the SDE will have to analyze closely the effect of the shutdown on the 130 SDE staff members whose positions are federally funded. Positions that are funded by the three largest grants are less likely to be affected, but “there may be significant questions” about positions funded through other streams.

The commissioner said the SDE would continue to discuss issues related to federal funding with the Office of Policy and Management and other state entities.

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