District Administration - May 2009 - (Page 12)
supervisor’s opinion • eamonn o’Donovan The new iDeA Money for special education in the Federal recovery Act Schools are advised not to build it into budgets just yet. As the economy descended into free fall in early 2009, education officials braced for the impact on school programs. In california, most school districts receive most of their funding from state coffers in sacramento, not from local property taxes. As california’s budget is based mostly on revenue from sales taxes and the stock market, school budgets were in line for a direct hit. In fact, california has a $42 billion deficit, and early in 2009 schools were presented with severely reduced budgets for the next 18 months. As the banking and insurance industries clamored for a bailout, so too did state governors hoping to shore up plummeting revenue streams. Relief arrived in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the $105.9 billion dedicated to education and training in the form of state stabilization funding and competitive grants. There was concern that the federal dollars would commit state governments to increased long-term spending, and some state governors spoke of rejecting some or all of the funds. california will accept the funds gleefully. school superintendents across california looked to the state Fiscal stabilization Fund portion of ARRA to backfill cuts to state programs in education and social services. As california’s economy continues to sour, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the stimulus dollars will ever make it out of sacramento—so much so that a group of congressional representatives from california wrote a letter on march 17, 2009, to Gov. Arnold schwarzenegger urging him to pass the federal dollars on to local schools to save teaching jobs, as congress intended. however, california has a serious cash flow problem, and many analysts here predict 12 May 2009 that the state will sit on federal money to at least help with this issue or—worst-case scenario—divert the funds to meet state needs. For example, the nonpartisan california Legislative Analysis office predicts a further $8 billion deficit since the budget passed in February, and california’s share of the state Fiscal stabilization Fund, $4.9 billion, is tempting to state legislators. iDeA for stability school superintendents are looking to the increased funding of IdeA to help stabilize their budgets. The increase in IdeA funding is substantial and comes in three pieces, including the state Fiscal stabilization Fund. The other two increases are to regular IdeA funding for 2009-2010 and to targeted or formula funds, known as IdeA recovery funds, built into ARRA. The increase to regular IdeA funding for the 2009-2010 school year includes: • $557 million to regular IDEA Part B funds for students age 5-22; and • $439 million to IDEA Part C funds for infant programs. The money that is getting the most attention is the one-time increase to IdeA under ARRA, known as the IdeA recovery funds. This increase is substantial and will bring total federal spending to 26 percent, closer to the 40 percent of special education costs originally promised under federal special education law. This is a significant increase, with: • $11.2 billion in targeted or formula funds for IDEA Part B over two years; • $400 million for preschool; and • $500 million for Part C for infants. The IdeA recovery funds alone represent about a $5 million increase each year for two years to special education funding for a california district with 50,000 students and the typical 8-10 percent ratio of special education students. some basic principles to remember are that ARRA funding is intended to promote student achievement through school reform and to ensure transparency in reporting and accounting—while admonishing districts District Administration
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District Administration - May 2009