U.S. Education Department Set for Rapid Stimulus Fund Deployment
The United States Department of Education is reporting that it will distribute $44 billion in stimulus package funds for education within the next 30 to 45 days.
According to information released by the department this weekend, the "first round of funding will help avert hundreds of thousands of estimated teacher layoffs in schools and school districts while driving crucial education improvements, reforms, and results for students."
Specific funds to be released within the next 30 to 45 days include $32.5 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (60.6 percent of the total provided by the stimulus package), $6 billion for IDEA (about half of the total provided by the stimulus package), and $5 billion for Title I, Part A (of the $13 billion total provided by the stimulus package).
Guidelines have been posted by the department covering the use of funds. In essence, funds are to be spent rapidly to maximize their impact on saving and creating jobs. The funds are to be used to "improve student achievement through school improvement and reform." And the funds are to be used transparently, with recipients being required to report publicly where the monies are being applied.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan emphasized this last point in a statement released Saturday, "These funds will be distributed as quickly as possible to save and create jobs and improve education, and will be invested as transparently as possible so we can measure the impact in the classroom. Strict reporting requirements will ensure that Americans know exactly how their money is being spent and how their schools are being improved."
More specific guidelines have been posted covering the use of funds in the categories of Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education; State Fiscal Stabilization Fund; Title I, Part A Recovery Funds for Grants to Local Educational Agencies; and IDEA Recovery Funds for Services to Infants, Toddlers, Children and Youth with Disabilities.
Beyond the $44 billion that will be released within the next 30 to 45 days, $17.3 billion will be available starting July 1 for Pell Grants and work-study funds, and $35 billion will be distributed between July 1 and Sept. 30 for "Title 1, IDEA, and State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, as well as monies for other programs...."
In addition, according to ED, $4.35 billion is being allocated for the department's Race to the Top fund, which is designed "to help states with bold plans to improve student achievement." Another $650 million is being made available to "assist school districts and non-profit organizations with strong track records of improving student achievement." Applications for the funds will open in the spring, and disbursements will begin in October 2009 in the first of two rounds of disbursements within the coming year.
"Our goals are to save jobs and improve education. Today's guidelines show exactly how we can do both--balancing the need for a speedy release of funds with the need for aggressive and thoughtful school improvements and reform to improve results for our children," Duncan said.