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By Shawn Roney/For The Richmond News
So far, the federal government shutdown is having minimal or no effects on Ray County school districts, according to officials in the Richmond, Hardin-Central and Orrick school districts.
As has been widely reported, the federal government has shut down much of its funding and services since Oct. 1 because of disagreements among federal legislators over the proposed new federal government budget. At press time, the shutdown was nearing the end of its first week.
Despite the uncertainty in Washington, it’s “pretty much business as usual” in Richmond, said Julie Harris, district special education director, on Friday morning. Dr. Mike Aytes, Richmond R-XVI assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, agreed.
“It really hasn’t impacted us – yet,” Aytes said. “More than likely, whatever effects we see will be delayed – and it’ll be because something stopped at the federal level, so it doesn’t come to the states, so the state in turn is not able to do their piece with us. But most of our funding – most of what we do – is, really, through the state, rather than the federal government.”
In an e-mail sent Friday morning, Orrick Superintendent Aerin O’Dell reported that the Orrick R-XI School District was “still able to access federal funds for the time being.” In that e-mail and in an e-mail Friday afternoon, O’Dell also reported that the shutdown changed the itinerary for the third-grade World of Wonder Club’s field trip, scheduled for Saturday. Rather than visiting the Gateway Arch as had been originally planned, the students were scheduled to visit Grant’s Farm because the shutdown had closed tours to the Gateway Arch, she announced.
Such reports are in keeping with a recent e-mail sent by Ronald Lankford, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) deputy commissioner. In the e-mail, provided courtesy of Hardin-Central Superintendent Martin Griffin, Lankford announced on Oct. 3 that “the ability to access federal funds has not been interrupted.”
“We were able to draw down USDA funds for food service yesterday (Oct. 2), and also initiated a draw of funds from the U.S. Department of Education that was received today,” Lankford stated. “As it currently stands, routine automated grants-related transactions and (the) drawdown of funds continues to be available unless otherwise notified.”
However, Lankford also admitted that there will be “an entirely new set of challenges, should the shutdown last beyond Oct. 17.