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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Two days ahead of the start of the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, public schools in Palm Beach County are being braced for the potential impact.
The principal of Grove Park Elementary in the 8300 block of North Military Trail said his school could be hit hard by the $54 million in projected cuts for education in Florida.
"Our school would take a huge hit compared to some of the other schools that aren't quite as economically challenged as we are," said Eric Gross, the school's principal.
Grove Park Elementary depends on Title I funds to pay for extra teachers, tutors and reading coaches for its students.
Forty-three percent of students need help with reading.
The vast majority -- 93 percent -- are on free or reduced lunch.
"It could have a hit throughout our entire community because for some of our students breakfast and lunch are the only meals that they get," Gross said.
District-wide, the School District of Palm Beach County is expected to see a reduction of $4 million for Title I funds, a $2 million reduction for special needs programs and hundreds of thousands of dollars less for teacher training and resources for children with special needs.
"What I've learned over the years is that when they start taking things away it's impossible to get them back," said Mary Pumphrey, a teacher at Grove Park Elementary. "To get the funding to where they reinstate those programs. [It] doesn't happen. And, I think that is going to be a problem for our students. I worry about how they'll do."
The district has said that it had set some funds aside to bridge some of the reduction in federal funds.