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Arizona’s most vulnerable kids facing cuts

PHOENIX — The White House said Arizona is facing almost $30 million of cuts to education if Congress and the president fail to reach an agreement to stop the so-called sequester from taking effect Friday.

The White House said 350 Arizona teachers could lose their jobs, with 120 of those being teachers who help children with disabilities.

“That impacts our most vulnerable children: Students with special needs, early childhood education for students from low income backgrounds,” said Pearl Chang-Esau with Expect More Arizona, a Valley-based education advocacy group.

Chang-Esau said if the federal government chops $30 million in federal funding to Arizona, she’s hopeful that it can backfilled with dollars out of the state’s rainy day fund.

“We have to look at how we invest in new resources and reinvest in existing resources to get the best outcome that we can for our kids.”

Chang-Esau’s also alarmed head start services would be cut for about 1,000 children if the sequestration takes effect.

The coming federal cuts come on top of big state cuts from 2008 to 2012, when the Legislature chopped more than $671 million from K-12 education, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Voters also rejected Proposition 204, which would have made a one-cent sales tax increase permanent to help fund public schools.