Schools get good news from federal government
While the state takes away, the federal government tries to give back — at least, a little.
Blue Earth Area and United South Central school district officials recently received some good financial news.
As part of the federal Education Jobs Fund, BEA is in line to get $255,000 and USC $156,000.
“We’ll look at areas where we’re overspending. It’s needed and is going to help. In a $12 million budget, it won’t last long,” says Dale Brandsoy, superintendent of BEA schools.
The funds are part of the Education Jobs Fund, a federal program which will give states $10 billion to save or create jobs for the 2010-2011 school year.
Funding formulas will determine how Minnesota’s share of $167 million is distributed to school districts.
Jerry Jensen, superintendent of United South Central School District, is still waiting to get more specific information on how the money can be spent.
“We’re very intrigued with the program. But, we don’t know if the money is to save a job or hire new people,” he says. “We have a lot of interest in getting remedial help for kids so the district can get off the not meeting AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) list.”
Under the program, districts may use the funds to pay teacher salaries or other employees providing school-level educational and related services.
The money can be used for compensation and benefits for existing or new employees.
Other employees may include librarians, coaches, interpreters, bus drivers and principals.
It’s not sure when funds will be available to districts, but paperwork sent to schools indicates it should be in coming weeks.
Brandsoy says the district will overspend its general fund by $556,000.
In addition to paying teachers salaries, the general fund also helps pay for books, supplies and other classroom-related expenses.
The federal dollars come at a time when state funding for districts has been “flat” and the ratio of doling out aid to districts has shifted from a 90-10 percent ratio to an anticipated 70-30 ratio this school year.
Also, the state plans to borrow money from districts this fall in an effort to balance its budget deficit.
Annually, the district receives about $8.5 million in state funding.
BEA’s aid payment of $2.081 million scheduled on Sept. 15 will be delayed. The money will be repaid — without interest — in May.
Jensen says his district was not among the 140 the state plans to withhold $83 million in aid. However, he expects USC will have its aid payment in the spring held back.