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Will Districts Spend Stimulus Bucks Before Deadline?

That's a very real question, especially after reading this post from the Association of School Business Officials.

During a recent U.S Department of Education webinar geared toward districts, 48 percent of those who participated said they were somewhat concerned about spending their money before the clock strikes midnight on Sept. 30, 2011. That's the deadline for spending $10 billion in Title I and $12 billion in special education dollars.

Of that money, districts have $6 billion in Title I funds (not counting school improvement grants) waiting to be spent, according to the latest Education Department data from June 18. Districts have $7.6 billion in special education funds on the table.

Clearly, the department is at least mildly concerned about slow spending since part of the recent webinar, including some PowerPoint slides, focused on the how much stimulus money is still out there to be spent. To be clear, this is not a department problem; the feds have obligated the money and made it available to districts. This is, apparently, a district spending issue.

While this money sits waiting to be spent, many districts and education advocates are fighting for more money from Congress to help stave off additional teacher layoffs as states slowly recover from the economic downturn. And some leaders in Congress are aware of this unspent money, and may even have been eyeing it to help pay for the edujobs bill. Leaving money on the table certainly doesn't seem like a wise strategy for convincing a frugal Congress to fork over even more funds.

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