Even With Stimulus Cash, Schools Aren't Rehiring

The federal government has sent billions in extra stimulus money to states for the purpose of rehiring educators and school administrators. But states are skittish.
by | August 24, 2010

States have gotten a financial shot in the arm for education spending, but don't expect that to translate into re-hired teachers. Earlier this month, President Obama signed a package providing an additional $26 billion in stimulus money to states. Of that, $10 billion was intended to help schools retain or rehire teachers, adminstrators and all sorts of other postitions associated with education, from cafeteria workers to bus drivers.

But states and school districts are hesitant about actually spending the money, according to the New York Times. They're worried that the economy may not have turned around by next year, and they may need the federal money more then than they do now.

The legislation mandates that states distribute the money this coming school year, but it allows school districts to wait until September 2012 to actually spend it. Teachers' unions, of course, are pushing schools to spend the money now to rehire or retain educators.

But the schools are adopting more of a wait-and-see approach:

The [Los Angeles Unified School District] laid off 682 teachers and counselors and about 2,000 support workers this spring and was not sure it would be able to hire any of them back with the stimulus money. The district says it could be forced to cut 4,500 more people next year.

In New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg committed to no teacher layoffs this year in exchange for not offering raises. A spokeswoman said the city’s budget had already taken the federal aid into account.

In New Jersey, where about 3,000 teachers were let go in May, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration worries that the federal aid will only forestall difficult decisions later, and it is unclear how much will be spent immediately.

“It’s a real double-edged sword,” said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor. “This money will not be there next year, and we’re not going to get back up to the funding that they had previously been used to.”

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