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Stimulus Questions Answered, Round 3: What Can I Do With My Money?


Schools and the Stimulus

Here's the third installment of answers to your stimulus questions. Check out Round 1 and Round 2.

How will the stimulus package address funds for Title IV (Safe and Drug-free Schools?)
Unlike Title I grants for disadvantaged students and money for special education, there isn’t a specific line item in the bill that covers Safe and Drug Free schools. But the short answers is that there might be some money in the bill for the program if districts have it left over and want to use it that way.

The longer answer: As you’ve probably heard, the bill includes $54 billion for a state stabilization fund that must first be used to “backfill” any cuts the state has already made in education. But, once those cuts are taken care of, the rest of the money in the fund flows to districts through the Title I formula. Districts are allowed to use it for any activity authorized under four different federal education laws, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Adult and Family Literacy Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. They can also use it for modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities.

ESEA governs the safe and drug free schools program, which means those excess state stabilization dollars can go to that program. But districts would have to deem it a higher priority than any of the other possible uses. It doesn’t get its own dedicated pot of money.

Will the stimulus package offer any additional funding specifically for the Even Start Family Literacy Program (Title I, Part B)? Additionally, will the package include any additional funding for adult literacy and/or parenting education?

This goes along with the previous question. As with Safe and Drug Free Schools, there isn’t a separate pot of money in the stimulus for Even Start, but, since it’s authorized under ESEA, districts can use a portion of their leftover money from the state stabilization fund for Even Start activities. That money can also be used for adult literacy programs authorized under the Adult and Family Literacy Act, as outlined above.

Are there funds to support school modernization and construction in the stimulus bill?

Great question, since this was a bone of contention as the bill was being crafted. And it goes back, yet again, to those state stabilization dollars that aren’t being used to backfill state cuts. Within that $54 billion fund, the $39.5 billion slated for districts can be used for a host of education-related programs outlined above, including school modernization and repair. And within the state stabilization fund, there is also $8.8 billion that goes to governors. They can use it for pressing needs, such as public safety, but can also direct it to education, including school modernization.

Why do I keep saying “modernization” instead of construction? It’s important to note that new school construction is not supposed to be a paid for using stimulus dollars, but the money can be used for modernization, renovation, and repair.

In AZ full day kindergarten was cut. Will the stimulus help offer that again?

The state stabilization money is supposed to be used first to backfill any cuts made to education. If Arizona gets enough money from the federal government to make up for all the cuts it has already made, the program may be restored.

I’m not sure if the stimulus money will make Arizona whole. It may not, according to this story. By my calculations, using estimates posted here, it looks like the state is getting about $1.43 billion total in education money for fiscal year 2009. That includes nearly a billion from the state stabilization fund, which is meant to backfill cuts. And I read in this story that The Grand Canyon State faces a total deficit of $1.6 billion this year.


I'm startled to see you suggest that states will "backfill" education first and deal with kindergarten separately after that. Are you thinking that kindergarten is not part of elementary and secondary education?

The bill includes the following for school construction:
State and local governments may issue up to $22 billion in "qualified school construction bonds" ($11 billion in 2009 and $11 billion in 2010), a new type of tax credit bond. Funding for the existing Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) program for schools will be increased by $2.8 billion ($1.4 billion in 2009 and 1.4 billion in 2010). These tax credits virtually eliminate school construction borrowing costs by providing tax credits to bond holders in lieu of interest. The school district only pays back the principal. The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities [a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education] has been closely tracking stimulus bill provisions for school construction and posting updated information on our website here:

To the person who asked about kindergarten, I was just suggesting that AZ may not have enough money left over, even with the stimulus fund, to put the full day kindergarten program back.

Many school districts have cut transportation in an effort to keep the cuts away from the classroom. Can stimulus money be used to restore (backfill) transportation cuts?

I thought Title I funding could pay for early learning and kindergarten in Title I schools. Couldn't this new Title I funding go toward restoring kindergarten teachers in Title I schools?

On Karen's question: Yes, the money could go to restoring kindergarten teachers. But in answering the Arizona question, I was trying to suggest that it may not in Arizona, given their specific budget situation.

How do we get applications for stimulus money that is available to private schools under IDEA?

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