Much of the state and local media has ignored the fact that the expiration of federal stimulus funding is one of the major reasons why school districts will be forced to reduce faculty and staff at the end of the school year.
School districts were aware of the so-called “funding cliff” when the stimulus bill passed in 2009, but many school districts used the temporary money to fund teaching positions anyway. Perhaps many of them believed that either the state or federal government would bail them out in 2011. Yet, neither the Obama administration nor the NC General Assembly are in any position to do so.
Education Week examines the situation in New Hanover County. Here is a summary:
While the Education Department has touted the jobs saved or created by money from the 2009 stimulus legislation, it also advised districts to be cautious in using the money for staffing because of the funding cliff ahead when the aid ran out.
“Because ARRA funds are available for only two years, [local education agencies] should consider how to use these short-term funds to build organizational and staff capacity for sustaining reform efforts when ARRA funding ends,” the department’s guidance reads.
Now, New Hanover County is among the districts at the very precipice the Education Department warned about. Special education teachers or specialists in Fort Worth, Texas, and Orleans Parish, La., are facing similar job cuts as the stimulus money runs out.
In all, New Hanover is proposing cutting 132 positions created with or sustained by stimulus dollars. Of those, 63 are special education teachers, special education assistants, or related jobs. The other 69 are jobs that were created or saved at Title I schools.
The above scenario is playing out in school districts across the nation. Public school districts in North Carolina that used temporary money for permanent needs have themselves and the Obama administration – not necessarily the expiration of the temporary sales tax – to blame.