Where to find more money this year

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) urged Congress to take immediate action on the legislation, which NSBA said would help school districts and states save thousands of jobs that are critical to academic achievement.

“In the face of massive budget shortfalls and layoffs across the country… the Keep Our Educators Working Act would provide funding needed to assist school districts and states as they try to finalize budgets for the next school year,” said Anne Bryant, executive director of NSBA. “… Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently warned that as many as 300,000 education layoffs could occur [this year]. Layoffs of this magnitude would cause additional damage to our fragile economy.”

The Education Commission of the States estimates that at least 300,000 teaching positions could be saved or created for this school year with the proposed funding.

A third potential source of additional funds is the e-Rate, the federal program that provides discounts on telecommunications services to eligible schools and libraries.

A proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would adjust the e-Rate for inflation, which would mark the first funding increase for the program since its debut more than a decade ago.

The adjustment would mean that the $2.25 billion-a-year program could increase to $2.55 billion over the next five years.

Some observers note that the 3-percent annual funding increase would produce only $67 million more for 2011—not nearly enough to make up for past years without inflation adjustment.

Still, it’s $67 million more than schools would have had without the FCC’s proposal, which must be formally adopted after the agency reviews comments. And other proposed changes, designed to simplify the application process and extend discounts on internal connections to more schools, could provide relief as well.

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