Schools to begin getting stimulus cash
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has released $44 billion, the first round of school dollars from the economic stimulus package.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the announcement yesterday at Doswell Brooks Elementary School in the Maryland suburbs, just outside Washington.
"It's critical the money go out quickly, but it's even more important this money be spent wisely," Duncan told a group of children, teachers, and state and local leaders in the school library.
The school has a big share of poor and special education children but has significantly boosted achievement over the past five years.
President Obama says the stimulus law will save teachers' jobs, although there is no estimate of how many jobs will be rescued. Nationwide, about 294,000 teachers - 9 percent - may face layoffs because of state budget cuts.
"This is a historic opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to lay the groundwork for a generation of education reforms," Duncan said.
The administration made available half of the dollars for federal programs that pay for kindergarten through 12th grade and special education. In addition, Duncan will provide applications for states to get money from a special fund to stabilize state and local budgets.
However, loopholes created by Congress could let states and school districts spend the money on other things, such as playground equipment.