The $10 billion Education Jobs Bill signed by President Obama last week is going to soon give school districts so much money that officials won’t even know how to spend itnot that they needed it anyway–according to some pundits.
According to folks like Fox News commentator and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, schools were doing just fine without this money. After President Obama quickly signed the bill on Aug. 10, Huckabee and others told Fox that the money would be wasted on bureaucracy.
Really? Because after one of the most brutal budget cycles in memory, we’ve seen projections of up to 300,000 layoffs and widespread reports of schools cutting out libraries, technology programs, reading and math interventions, and extracurricular activities and sports.
Obviously, those pundits didn’t want to speak to school board member Cathy Johnson, of the South-Western City School District. Her 21,000-student district is looking to hire instructional specialists to help their low-performing students catch up in subjects like reading and math.
“The Education Jobs Fund will help my district maintain the continuity for core instruction that is needed for appropriate class sizes and an enriched curriculum with support services for reading, math, and language arts,” she said at a press conference last week.
One important point that got lost in the hoopla was that this bill was not just about saving teachers’ jobsnot just this year, but districts have until Sept. 30, 2012, to allocate the fundsbut it was also about saving programs that enrich student learning and educational experiences.
The U.S. Department of Education held a conference call last Thursday to explain some of the details. One important note, our colleague David Brine at the Washington State School Directors Association writes, “the law stipulates that funds must be used for salaries and benefits for school-based employees, including teachers, principals, and support staff. Funds may not be used for compensation for district-level employees such as superintendents and departmental directors.” Districts also must comply with maintenance of effort requirements.
I’m surein these economic timesthat school districts can find some where worthwhile to spend their money on.
Joetta Sack-Min, Associate Editor