Budget cuts hurt schools in military communities hard

(CBS News) YERMO, Calif. - Nearly $2 billion in federal funding is being trimmed from public schools across the country - part of the budget sequester that went into effect a month ago. It's schools in military communities, however, that are especially hard hit.

Tiffany Cook's father, Col. Brian Cook, is on his way to Afghanistan. It is his fifth overseas deployment with the Army since 2004.

The hardest part about seeing him leave, Cook says, it "that he might not come home."

Col. Brian Cook
Col. Brian Cook and family
CBS News

Cook is a sophomore at Silver Valley High School in Yermo, Calif., near Fort Irwin National Training Center.

She's worried that her school counselor will lose her job due to budget cuts. Cook will visit her once a week while her dad is deployed.

"They're going to see all these kids that are going through so much and they don't have anyone to talk to," Cook said.

According to Superintendent Marc Jackson, the school district has approximately 2,500 students, 61 percent of which of "military dependent."

Jacks says schools near military bases survive on something called "Impact Aid"

"Impact Aid is the government's way of saying they know we can't tax the base," he said. "The military has put Fort Irwin in the middle of our district, so you can't tax a federal property."

To make up for the loss of property taxes, $1.2 billion is paid out annually to 1,400 school districts nationwide near military bases and Indian reservations, according to the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools.

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The sequester cut $60 million of that funding in addition to the cuts affecting every school in the country, according the U.S. Department of Education.

It's a half-million-dollar hit for Jackson's school district. He says he may need to cut bus transportation, teacher training and those school counselors.

"You should have excellent schools for our military that has done so much for us, and to cut them is just callous," Jackson said.

Tiffany Cook has much more on her mind than her school's budget.

"I wish he was here. I just wish he didn't leave," she said.

  • Ben Tracy

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