Tiffany Cook: That he loves me. And that’s mostly what he could say. That he hoped he will be back.
Jessica: Tiffany Cook’s father, Colonel Brian Cook, is on his way to Afghanistan. It is his fifth deployment overseas but it never gets easier for Tiffany.
Tiffany: I just worry about him. Just worrying that he might not come home.
Jessica: Tiffany is a sophomore at Silver Valley High School in Yermo, California near Fort Irwin National Training Center.
Counselor: How do you feel about this?
Tiffany: It’s a scary feeling.
Jessica: With her dad away, Tiffany talks to her school counselor once a week. But her counselor may lose her job due to those budget cuts known as the sequester.
Tiffany: They’re going to see all these kids that are going through so much, and they don’t have anyone to talk to.
Jessica: The $85 billion of automatic cuts across every government agency went into effect a few weeks ago when Congress couldn’t agree on a spending plan. And those cuts are hitting schools near military bases harder than other public schools. That is because most public schools depend on property taxes for funding. But the government can’t tax certain properties, like land that is part of an Indian reservation, national park or a military base, so schools like Tiffany’s that are located near a military base instead survive on something called Impact Aid.
Superintendent Marc Jackson: Impact Aid is the government’s way of saying they know we can’t tax the base. The military has put Fort Irwin in the middle of our district, so you can’t tax a federal property.
Jessica: To make up for the loss of property taxes, $1.2 billion is paid out every year to 1,400 school districts nationwide near military bases and Indian reservations. The sequester cut $60 million of that funding in addition to the cuts affecting every school in the country. It is a half-million-dollar hit for Superintendent Jackson’s school district. He says he may need to cut bus transportation, teacher training and those school counselors.
Superintendent Jackson: You should have excellent schools for our military that has done so much for us. And to just cut them is just callous.
Jessica: Tiffany has much more on her mind than her school’s budget.
Tiffany: I wish he was here. I just wish he didn’t leave.
Jessica: Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.