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Given money, schools wait on rehiring teachers

The $10 billion in new money that Congress just approved for schools to rehire teachers, counselors, and support workers is instead being set aside by school districts worried about cuts to come in the current school year, reports the New York Times. As schools handed out pink slips to teachers this spring, states made a beeline to Washington to plead for money for their ravaged education budgets. But now that the federal government has come through, some of the nation’s biggest school districts are balking at using their share of the money to hire teachers right away. With the economic outlook weakening, they argue that big deficits are looming for the next academic year and that they need to preserve the funds to prevent future layoffs. Los Angeles, for example, is projecting a $280 million budget shortfall next year that could threaten more jobs. “You’ve got this herculean task to deal with next year’s deficit,” said Lydia L. Ramos, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest after New York City. “So if there’s a way that you can lessen the blow for next year, we feel like it would be responsible to try to do that.” Still other obstacles loom for districts in using the money to rehire teachers, not the least of which is timing. School has resumed in many districts in struggling states, including Arizona, California, and Illinois. Assigning new teachers and juggling classrooms could disrupt students…

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