Stimulus could give Calif. schools $10B

January 28, 2009 3:09:10 PM PST
California and Bay Area school administrators have a big stake in Wednesday's stimulus package vote. A significant chunk of the current $825 billion dollar plan is supposed to help schools cope with state budget cuts.

Under the current stimulus proposal California would get $10 billion out of the $140 billion earmarked for America's schools.

A spokesman for the Vallejo Unified School District says they really need the money.

"As of right now if the bill is adopted as written, we're getting about $7 million, $2.5 million for special education programs, another $1.5 million for low income schools, and $3 million for facilities upgrade - so, this a big deal for us," said Jason Hodge, Vallejo Unified School District.

School districts are facing deep cuts in funding from the state - which is trying to solve its own $42 billion budget dilemma. George Miller, the East Bay congressman who chairs the House Education Committee, wants the money to be used to prevent lay-offs, pay for construction and help low income students.

"It's essential that the federal government step in and try to make sure that we do not have a collapse of our elementary secondary education system, or that we oust students in higher education start to lose a semester, a year, or even two years," said Miller.

The California Teacher Association says the money will not be a silver bullet for all the state's funding problems. In fact, there's some concern that it could result in more state cuts.

"One of the things that we're fearful of is that we're hopeful that the state doesn't take a look at the money we're getting from the feds and say 'the feds just gave you $7 million so we're going to cut you by $7 million,'" said Hodge.

"We believe that this investment is critical and it's critical to how we emerge from this economic downturn," said Miller.

California school administrators and teacher unions are lobbying congress to make sure that the state can't siphon stimulus money away from local school districts to help balance the budget.


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