Liebman’s district passed a new tax levy and has been able to move around some carryover monies to offset its budget woes, so the district will face “only minor reductions” this fall. However, he said, the stimulus funds “will only come this year and next, and that means we’ll still have overwhelming cuts in 2010-11.”

Indeed, state budgets aren’t likely to rebound anytime soon, Sigritz said, explaining that state revenues typically lag up to two years after a recovery. So even if the economy begins to turn around, states won’t see the effects for a few years, he said.

Besides the stabilization funds, schools also are getting billions of dollars in stimulus money for Title I, special education, educational technology, and other programs in 2009 and 2010. But they also face competing mandates from federal officials: save jobs, while also investing in one-time reforms that can improve education. (See chart in PDF)

In Los Angeles, the city’s board of education voted in April to eliminate or reassign 8,800 positions in the hopes of closing a $596 million budget deficit.

The number of actual layoffs has fallen, thanks to early retirement programs and the use of federal stimulus funds. But as of press time, it still stood at 2,520 positions, including some 2,100 classroom teachers–setting off protests from students, educators, and other stakeholders.

What’s more, because state rules mandate that layoffs be issued based on seniority, some observers fear the cuts will eliminate a young generation of teachers who bring sorely needed enthusiasm and new teaching methods to the city’s most problem-plagued schools–including a willingness to use technology and other fresh approaches to instruction (see related story).

In South Carolina, schools will receive $184 million in stabilization funds–but the money isn’t enough to offset $500 million in budget cuts to education for the fiscal year that starts July 1, said Jim Foster, director of communications for the state’s education department.

Foster said his department surveyed districts and found that, without the stimulus money, they’d have to cut about 2,600 positions. With the money, they’ll still have to cut 1,900 positions, he said–including 1,000 classroom teachers.

“It is a big hit for everyone, even if we do get the money. We have severe deficits in funding,” he said.

Washington’s state legislature in April passed a budget that aims to fill a $9 billion deficit in part by cutting about $1.6 billion from education over the next two years, said Nate Olson, a spokesman for the governor’s office.

The bulk of the cuts come from a statewide initiative that allocated money to reduce class sizes, offer extended learning opportunities, provide early learning programs, and supply professional development. “So the cuts to education will lead to teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, and reduced programs and services, among other things,” Olson said.

Washington received $672 million in stabilization funds and is in line for another $336 million this fall. But “while the funds will help, they will not completely offset the cuts to education,” Olson said.

He concluded: “The [stimulus] money will make a very bad situation only bad.”


National Association of State Budget Officers

NASBO’s “Fiscal Survey of States, Spring 2009” (PDF)

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Stimulating Achievement resource center. Learn how to make wise spending decisions and keep track of school needs as stimulus funds become available. Go to: Stimulating Achievement