Must schools use money to keep teachers?

ADRIAN, Mich. - School officials are trying to figure out whether federal stimulus money must, can or should be used to avoid teacher layoffs, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram reported.

The Michigan Association of School Boards has warned districts not to use short-term stimulus money to pay for ongoing operations, which one school board member said includes teacher salaries, the Daily Telegram reported, but a Michigan Education Association official said it would be "unethical" of school districts to accept stimulus money and still lay off teachers.

"No one at this point can say definitively how these funds can be utilized at the district level or how much will get to the local district," the MASB stated, according to The Daily Telegram

During discussion at a recent Adrian school board meeting, Lenawee Intermediate School District Superintendent Steve Krusich said there is no requirement in the stimulus bill that school districts must refrain from laying off any employees, The Daily Telegram reported.

"They can use it to avert layoffs, but they're not required to use it to avert layoffs," he said. A school board member pointed out that using stimulus money on salaries will likely only delay layoffs for a year or two, according to the report.

But MEA spokesman Doug Pratt told The Daily Telegram that the MEA believes that stimulus money should be used "first and foremost" to prevent layoffs. While the law does not prohibit taking the money and then laying off staff, the MEA position is that "it would be entirely unethical and violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law's intent."

The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, "Confusion surrounds stimulus package impact," March 12, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "What teacher shortage?" Feb. 15, 2002