With the "fiscal cliff" deadline a few days away and no new attempts in Washington, D.C., to avert it, already lean school systems continue to brace themselves for sudden funding cuts.

Cutting federal funds will affect all public schools, but the effects will be uneven. Overall, about 90 percent of education money comes from state and local funds. Most federal funding is earmarked for supporting students from low-income families, English language learners and students with special needs. Some spending is limited to just those students, but in schools with the highest need, federal money goes to schoolwide programs that benefit all students in the school.

This means schools in high-need communities face big cuts, while schools in wealthier communities have little federal funding to lose.

“It in essence widens the gaps between the haves and have-nots,” Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, told the New York Times.

Gretchen Krebs has taught general and special education in New York and Utah. She is passionate about finding innovative approaches to meet the needs of all students. Contact her at gkrebs@deseretnews.com