As school districts look at their budgets this year — without the temporary ‘stimulus’ money– many are finding they would have been better off in the long run to have made the tough decisions in 2009 rather than accept temporary relieve from government handouts.
The federal economic-stimulus program’s $100 billion in education aid largely met its goals of preserving or creating K-12 jobs and jump-starting education-redesign efforts at the state level, according to a new study from the Center on Education Policy, a research organization in Washington.
A series of surveys by the CEP looked at the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in 2009, which poured emergency aid into the states to help alleviate the effects of the Great Recession and wound up giving K-12 education its biggest windfall ever. The ARRA was followed by the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund, which was created in the summer of 2010.
The CEP surveys found that 52 percent of school districts with funding cuts were able to make up for them using money from the $48.5 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the part of the stimulus most closely focused on saving jobs and offsetting local reductions. And, in another 45 percent of those districts, the federal dollars helped patch at least some budget holes.
Most districts—69 percent—used State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money to save or create jobs. The stimulus also provided new, one-time money for the two main federal formula programs—Title I grants to help disadvantaged students, and special education state grants. Districts used some of that money for job-saving purposes, too, CEP found. The money was a one-time infusion that has been phased out overtime.