Stimulus spending decisions begin

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - School officials in southwest Michigan are looking for ways to use short-term stimulus money for long-term impact, according to the Herald-Palladium.

In Watervliet Public Schools, for example, about $95,000 in stimulus funds will pay for computer software and hardware aimed at helping students who have fallen behind in reading and math, Superintendent Bob Gabel told the Palladium.

Benton Harbor schools will use part of its stimulus funding to develop an instructional coaching program, strengthen writing instruction and beef up a K-12 literacy initiative, Superintendent Carole Schmidt said.

"What's important is we use this money wisely so whatever impact it has will be sustainable without the funding," Schmidt told the Palladium. The stimulus provides funding for two years only.

Most officials told the Palladium they do not intend to use the money to hire teachers.

"After the stimulus money disappears in two years, the district would incur unemployment costs, which are substantial," Gabel told the Palladium.

Some stimulus funds are earmarked for technology, special education or helping disadvantaged students, the Palladium reported.

John Ostrowski, superintendent of the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, told the Palladium that the ISD will forward most of its $1.82 million in stimulus funds to local districts.

Herald-Palladium, "Teachers want fed aid to focus on skills," July 5, 2009

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