Spending $10 billion to save jobs, sooner or later

The $26 billion bill signed by President Barack Obama earlier this week is intended to preserve jobs, and $10 billion of it is earmarked for saving teachers’ jobs — but how soon it will do so remains unclear. We wrote about the passage of this bill in an earlier post, and since then local education reporters around the country have been looking into what the $10 billion will pay for and when it will be spent.

In New York, the money may not come in time to restore programs and even curricula that have been cut. In Michigan, one state official wondered if strings will be attached to the money, which isn’t expected to hit the ground there till mid-fall. In Virginia, state officials said the money can be used “for pay, benefits and to provide educational services, but not for administrative expenses or support services.” In South Carolina, the money was welcomed, but it may not actually be spent until next year, when education budgets are likely to be tight once again. (The federal government has given states until September 2012 to spend the new money.)

And it seems that in a few places, the loss of teacher jobs was not as dire as predicted. The blog “This Week In Education” has been rounding up other stories; see here and here.

The U.S. Department of Education has just posted on its website guidance for states applying for the money, as well as the application itself, which includes a list of states and territories and how much money each is eligible for. The sums range from a high of $1.2 billion for California to a low of $17.5 million for Wyoming. American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive a combined total of $50 million.

Texas has its own separate rules and application because the federal government wants to avoid a repeat of what happened with the Lone Star State last year: it diverted $3.2 billion in federal stimulus funds intended for education to balance its budget. If Texas wants the $830 million in new money for which it’s eligible, it will have to play by different rules.