‘Funding cliff’ looms as stimulus money runs out

Education is “a worker-intensive business,” Griffith said. “If you’re cutting positions, you’re cutting programs.”

In Tennessee, districts used the federal stimulus money in part to add employees, particularly instructional and curricular coaches, said Amanda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.

Massachusetts strongly encouraged districts to use at least 50 percent of their Title I stimulus money on “strategic investments” that would leave long-term benefits for students, said J.C. Considine, a spokesman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Wyoming, a state insulated from much of the recent economic pain by its strong energy industry, is actually planning to return $10 million of the $82 million in stabilization money, said Jeanne Norman of the state’s Office of State Lands and Investments.

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A few Wyoming districts have used stimulus money to pay for teaching jobs, but more of them have spent it on educational software, student programs, and building maintenance.

Idaho’s stimulus money saved jobs and restored work days that school employees were going to take off through furloughs, said Melissa McGrath, a spokeswoman for the state Education Department. But districts also bought classroom materials, educational software, and remediation services for students, which will help in the post-stimulus era, she said.

Nearly every state will use the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund approved last year to make up for the loss of stimulus money. One exception is South Carolina, which did not receive its $140 million share because of large cuts the state made to higher-education funding, which violated the law’s requirement to maintain spending in that area.

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