Stimulus funding released

WASHINGTON – The first $44 billion in education stimulus money is en route to states, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan said strings will be attached to the next round of aid, the Associated Press reported.

According to a chart at the U.S. Department of Education Web site, Michigan will receive nearly $1.5 billion in eight categories, most directly related to K-12 regular and special education. The largest portion, about $1 billion, is allocated through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, intended first to backfill any cuts in school foundation grants.

But loopholes created by Congress could let states and school districts spend the money on such things as playground equipment or new construction, according to AP. It also could let lawmakers cut state education aid and replace it with stimulus dollars, leaving school districts with no additional money.

Duncan said last week he will withhold the second round of funds from states straying from the goals of education reform and teacher job protection, the AP reported.

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina has refused to take the money because he can’t use it to pay down debt, according to the report.

To get the next round of aid, states must report on: teacher quality and evaluation systems, comparisons between state and national test data, school restructuring under No Child Left Behind, charter schools and how many high school graduates earn at least some college credit.

The Associated Press, “Schools to begin receiving economic stimulus money,” April 1, 2009

U.S. Department of Education, “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act State Tables,” (accessed April 1, 2009)

Michigan Education Digest, “Must schools use money to keep teachers?” March 13, 2009