Schools would get $106 billion from federal stimulus package

The massive federal economic stimulus package hammered out by Congress this week contains about $106 billion earmarked for education, an unprecedented expansion of federal spending into the nation’s schools, reports the Los Angeles Times. District officials throughout California, bracing for another round of painful state budget cuts, were grateful for a new infusion of funds. But officials noted that with the state budget facing a nearly $42-billion gap next year, cuts still would be necessary. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest, faces a nearly $677-million shortfall next year and expects more cuts the following year. But the district is in line to receive nearly $1 billion in federal aid over that time. "I hope the federal government is going to come through, but . . . it’s not large enough to fill the deficits we’re going to have," said Megan K. Reilly, L.A. Unified’s chief financial officer. Congressional leaders reached a $789 billion agreement Feb. 11 that is expected to be voted on and sent to the president’s desk in the next few days. Details are still emerging, and many local districts have yet to figure out exactly how much they stand to gain. The compromise provides tens of billions less for education than an earlier House of Representatives plan, but more than the Senate version. The compromise includes $53.6 billion for a nationwide state stabilization fund, which includes $39.5 billion earmarked for local school districts that could be used to prevent teacher layoffs. Some of that money could be used to modernize buildings, but not to build new ones. Additionally, more than $12 billion is included for special education, and $13 billion for the schools that serve the nation’s neediest children. Money is also set aside for state student-data systems, teacher-quality grants, educational technology, Head Start preschools, and other programs…

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