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Just Because the Ed. Dept. Speeds Up Stimulus Funding...


Schools and the Stimulus
...doesn't mean states and school districts will spend their money faster.

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it is releasing nearly $11.4 billion in Title I, special education, and vocational rehabilitation funding a month early to "help save jobs and drive reform," according to a press release. Rather than getting these stimulus funds at the end of September, states and school districts will have access to the money around Sept. 1.

But as we've written before, states have been slow to draw down their allocations. As of July 24, states had only drawn down about 22 percent of their available stimulus funds. So don't think this will necessarily unleash a flood of cash into states.


In some cases, it would be a mistake to assume that because states or schools have not yet literally spent stimulus funds, those funds have had no impact.

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund assistance from the stimulus plan was crucial in averting deep state aid cuts in New York this year. Without that help, thousands more school employees would have been put out of work.

The Stabilization Fund enabled school districts to commit to keeping those employees on their payrolls. But, for the most part, actual state aid payments and pay checks won't start until September.

What do the feds think states will buy with the money?

Once there's a teacher in every classroom and a book in front of every child, what will they buy with that much money?

Facilities are out, and without space for more teachers it's hard to lower class-size.

Will the building wiring and the program rules support massive computer installations?

Can the teachers make use of added professional development?

Would they accept and use extra hours at the end of each working day?

With a reasonable planning horizon, schools could certainly make smart use of added funds--but this isn't a reasonable planning frame.

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