Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Senator Patty heroically saves jobs not threatened - part II

The new stimulus money for saving teachers' jobs is not limited to saving teacher jobs. Less than 500 teachers were facing layoff last spring in Washington - a fraction of the 3,000 Murray funded, as we reported in part I on August 13. What will the school administrators do with the money? Peter Callahan at Tacoma News Tribune, who discovered the fiction of saving 3,000 jobs, dug further. He found that the money is not limited to saving jobs, as claimed, but can be used for almost anything. There is no barrier to school districts moving the funds; there is at the state level. Blank check. More administrators with nice offices, instead of teachers in the classroom. Pay raises for them? TNT
In the continuing search for details about the $206 million in education jobs fund money that will start flowing to the state's 295 school districts next month, I asked federal officials about so-called anti-supplanting rules. That's the language placed in most federal education appropriations to prevent states from replacing state money with federal money. The point is to make sure federal funds are to enhance support of schools, not simply replace money that otherwise would have flowed from the state. But the anti-supplanting rules in the education jobs proposal (called Supplement, Not Supplant or SNS) apply only to states. There does not appear to be anti-supplanting rules that apply to the local school districts. This was confirmed by technical staff with the federal Department of Education. The department wants the money to be used quickly and wants it to go toward school building jobs – rehiring laid off staff, preserving existing staff or hiring new staff. But because the money can be used on existing staff, spending it that way would presumably free up dollars already budgeted from existing sources – mostly state appropriations and local levy money. So what can districts do with those freed-up dollars? Anything they would normally spend money on including the things that the program specifically prohibits the states to do such as fill rainy day funds or pay down debt. It could also be used for a purpose the federal dollars cannot be used for _ central administration. ...
Why did the federal Department of Education (DOE), which requested the bill, ask for such loose language?
This was done so that districts could have flexibility and be creative with the money, department staff said. And the department hopes it will be used to immediately boost education and preserve school-based jobs
DOE "hopes" the money will be used for its intended purpose. They are pretty naive. There are a lot of creative people figuring out how to use it. Yes, their first interest is education. But they will make sure - sure - that they spend every dollar, somehow. -- See also "Truth Needle! False: Murray's statement about teachers' jobs in today's Seattle Times.

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