Thursday, April 02, 2009

Federal bailout funds arrive for schools

Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Reports California to Receive More
Than $1 Billion in Recovery Funds for Federal Education Programs

ARRA was signed into law in February by President Barack Obama. The entire spending and tax package to benefit the nation's schools includes more than $100 billion for elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education; $4.1 billion for early education and care; and $26 billion in education tax incentives. A total of $5 billion is expected to benefit public education in California. This unprecedented investment will provide public education and early childhood programs with critically needed funds that can be used to avoid teacher layoffs, continue efforts to close achievement gaps, and improve educational opportunities for California's children and youth.
SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today announced the U.S. Department of Education has awarded California an estimated $634 million for students with special needs and $564 million for socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the first disbursement of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"The federal economic stimulus funds will help us educate some of our most vulnerable students – those in need of special education services and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged," said O'Connell. "I have directed divisions within the California Department of Education to get these education recovery funds out to our schools as quickly as possible in order to save and create jobs as well as improve student achievement."

The nearly $634 million for special education constitutes half of the ARRA recovery funds for California dedicated to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B program. The funds will be used to help districts in this fiscal year and next. The remaining 50 percent of the IDEA funds will be awarded in the fall. These recovery funds constitute a one-time increase for IDEA, Part B programs. The Obama Administration has made clear that the funding should be used for short-term investments that have the potential for long-term benefits rather than for expenditures that cannot be sustained once the recovery funds are expended.

"I am pleased to note this increase in IDEA funding because the federal government historically has not met its commitment to provide 40 percent of funding needed to serve students with disabilities," said O'Connell. "The ARRA funding is a welcome increase, and I will work with educators to achieve continued increased funding."

Some possible uses of these limited-term IDEA recovery funds include:

Obtaining state-of-the art assistive technology devices and provide training in their use to enhance access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities.
Providing intensive district-wide professional development for special education and regular education teachers that focuses on scaling-up, through replication; proven and innovative evidence-based school-wide strategies in reading, math, writing, and science; and positive behavioral supports to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.
Developing or expanding the capacity to collect and use data to improve teaching and learning.
Expanding the availability and range of inclusive placement options for preschoolers with disabilities by developing the capacity of public and private preschool programs to serve these children.
Hiring transition coordinators to work with employers in the community to develop job placements for youths with disabilities.
The $564 million in ARRA funds allocated to benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged students constitutes half of the ARRA recovery funds dedicated to Title I, Part A program expected to go to California. The remaining 50 percent of the Title I funds are expected to be awarded in the fall. These recovery funds constitute a one-time increase for Title I, Part A programs. Again, the federal government intends this funding to be used for short-term investments that have the potential for long-term benefits, rather than for expenditures that cannot be sustained once the recovery funds are expended. Some possible uses of these limited-term Title I recovery funds include:

Establishing a system for identifying and training highly effective teachers to serve as instructional leaders in Title I school wide programs and modifying the school schedule to allow for collaboration among the instructional staff.
Providing new opportunities for Title I school-wide programs for secondary school students to use high-quality, online coursework as supplemental learning materials for meeting mathematics and science requirements.
Developing and expanding longitudinal data systems to drive continuous improvement efforts focused on increased achievement in Title I schools.
Districts are also encouraged to consider using these funds to support and improve preschool and early childhood development programs which are an existing allowable use for Title I.

ARRA was signed into law in February by President Barack Obama. The entire spending and tax package to benefit the nation's schools includes more than $100 billion for elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education; $4.1 billion for early education and care; and $26 billion in education tax incentives. A total of $5 billion is expected to benefit public education in California. This unprecedented investment will provide public education and early childhood programs with critically needed funds that can be used to avoid teacher layoffs, continue efforts to close achievement gaps, and improve educational opportunities for California's children and youth.

"President Obama recognizes that investing in education is a key way to rev up America's economic engine," O'Connell said. "The severity of our state budget crisis has resulted in billions of dollars in cuts to California schools. This federal funding is vitally needed to help lessen the blow to public education. I am pleased to be working with the Governor, the Legislature, and the education community to get these resources out to schools quickly so the recovery funds can be put to use as they were intended."

O'Connell is working with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as well as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration, and the California Legislative Leadership to make sure California obtains maximum funds for which the state is eligible. For more information on ARRA and how it will benefit California, please visit American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - Allocations & Apportionments. For a preliminary list of how much ARRA IDEA funds each school districts is expected to receive, please visit CALIFORNIA-20090213-HR1-LEAs (PDF; Outside Source). For a preliminary list of how much ARRA Title I funds each school district is expected to receive, please visit ESEA Title I LEA Allocations Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Outside Source).

A final list of exactly how much ARRA funding each school district will receive will take a month to compile.
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Jack O'Connell — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100
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