Now Let’s Talk About Money – Duncan’s Ed money watch

The numbers are in. $100 billion will be going to the nations school districts. That’s the share Ed Secretary Arne Duncan will dole out as part of Obama’s stimulus package. This sum is a boon to many districts facing large budget shortfalls with teacher and programs on the chopping block to make ends meet. Duncan has said up to $40 billion will be rushed to districts over the next couple of months.

from NY Times

The message, which went out Friday in documents e-mailed to governors, state education commissioners and thousands of school superintendents, provided the first broad guidelines for how the Education Department intends to channel $100 billion to the nation’s 14,000 school districts over the next few months. The expenditure is part of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package.

Some $44 billion will be made available to states before the end of this month, Mr. Duncan said, in the hope that layoffs can be averted. Hundreds of thousands of job losses in schools had been projected for the fall because of growing state budget deficits caused by a steep drop in tax revenues.

This isn’t money for nothing however. If districts want to get any of the remaining $56 billion they will have to toe the line that Dunc sets. In order to receive any more cash, state’s must prove they are complying with new laws to improve teacher quality, standards, assessments, data systems, and get failing schools on an upswing. That’s a tall order, but I’m less concerned with that then with what will happen when this stimulus money runs out.

from NY Times

The guidance admonished educators to spend the stimulus money, which is temporary, in ways that would minimize the dislocation that could follow when it ran out in two years. Some department officials are describing the exhaustion of the stimulus money in two years as a “cliff” over which school districts could plunge if they do not spend the money wisely.

If districts spend this money on things they really don’t need the results will be disastrous. Thought it would be nice to re-do the gymnasium, update the computer lab, or even hire a slew of new teachers, in the long run those would be poor choices. I hope districts look to the future when they are spending this money. What might look appealing today may bankrupt you tomorrow. This money is meant to cauterize some of the wounds in the education system, not to buy it a shiny new watch. Then it’s onward and upward.

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