The U.S. Department of Education has approved an additional $176 million in federal stimulus funds that will help Kentucky save jobs of teachers in the coming year.That money will be very helpful, and I'm very glad it's headed our way, and I don't want to seem unappreciative.
Without the money, “we would have laid off lots of teachers,” said Terry Holliday, the state’s education commissioner.
But do know this: these dollars will not change any local school district's budget for next year, nor will they change our stalled effort to pass a state budget that supports local education.
They're part of the original State Fiscal Stabilization Fund from the original 2009 federal stimulus legislation, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or ARRA.
All the budget drafts--from the Governor, the House, and the Senate--were written already counting on them. Every version of the state budget shows those dollars being used to maintain the SEEK guarantee.
Most importantly, local boards and superintendents are already relying on these dollars coming to them through SEEK. In recent weeks, when they've spoken publicly about how many teachers and support staff they will be able to keep next year and how many they may have to let go, those calculations already reflect this $176 million.
The last week's federal announcement confirmed that we had filed the right paperwork and submitted the right evidence to get the next installment of the money. It also reminded us that the federal stimulus legislation really is helping our schools keep serving our students.
Last week's announcement didn't give us any money we didn't already expect, and it won't save us from any P-12 cuts that state officials and local leaders have discussed in recent weeks.