If federal aid reductions occur, he said, it would take about a $500,000 bite out of the district's budget — enough to potentially result in some part-time staff reductions.

"That's significant in a budget that's already trimmed back," Martirano said. "I don't want to create any form of panic right now. We're still in the very beginning stages."

While most federal funding for education wouldn't be reduced until the next school year, Impact Aid — the program that provides money to schools located near large military installations — would be cut immediately. The program is intended to reimburse schools for the loss of property tax revenue caused by a large federal presence in their district.

The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, a group that advocates for the funding in Washington, estimates that St. Mary's and Anne Arundel counties would each lose about $150,000 immediately under those cuts. Anne Arundel County is home to Fort Meade.

The program spends $1.3 billion on roughly 1,300 school systems across the country, including 11 in Maryland. But John Forkenbrock, executive director of the association, said schools have been preparing for the cuts for months.

Anne Arundel schools, for instance, set aside $2.7 million in the current budget to deal with any possible effects from the sequester, spokesman Bob Mosier said.

Carroll County Public Schools has not made plans or considered the impact sequestration could have on its system, spokeswoman Carey Gaddis said.

Unlike past government shutdowns, the sequester is unlikely to have immediate impacts if it goes into effect on Friday. The extent to which the public even notices will depend largely on how long Washington allows the cuts to remain in place.

For now, school and elected officials say, that is the question making everyone nervous.

"We don't really know what the full impact will be," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said. "What we know is the uncertainty is difficult to plan for."

Baltimore Sun reporters Luke Broadwater and Joe Burris contributed to this report.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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