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Education Funding in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act

Recovery & Reinvestment Report #3                                           April 24, 2009 (revised*)
Maine's Stabilization Funds Application Submitted

Governor John Baldacci filed Maine's application under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (stabilization funds) to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) on April 10, after the Maine Department of Education and other agencies compiled the necessary information. The application has already had an initial review, and USDE has now held two follow-up conversations with Department staff, requesting revisions and additional information. We anticipate approval in a matter of days, and the initial funds - $27.8 million to restore the curtailments made earlier this school year - will flow to school systems in May.

ARRA Funds Spreadsheets Posted

The Department has posted the School Administrative Unit allocations for the ARRA funds in three categories - State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, Title I, and IDEA - on the Department's Recovery web page.

 
Revenue Projections and the "Funding Cliff"

Among the various funds available for K-12 education in the Recovery package is $129* million of stabilization funds that will flow through the Department to school systems. All of the money will be funneled to local schools to make up for the reductions in state funds that have been anticipated. The first $27 million will flow in the current fiscal year, probably in May (see above). Another $43 million was planned for the 2009-10 school year, and $59* million in the 2010-11 school year.

However, revenues continue to drop as a result of the current economic situation. We will know more after the Revenue Forecasting Commission meets in early May to make its projections. The Governor and the Legislature's Appropriations Committee are expected to make adjustments to the pending two-year budget as a result, and those adjustments could include reductions to state aid to education.
 
Our first priority will be to protect funding for the coming school year (2009-10). That means we may put more money into the coming school year at the expense of the following year. Or, in other words, the "funding cliff" that was anticipated in 2011-12 could come a year earlier (in 2010-11.)
 
These are extremely difficult economic times, with very difficult choices for us in the days ahead. Commissioner Gendron will be reaching out to our partner organizations to jointly sponsor an event where we can collaborate on strategies for budgeting in difficult economic times.

 
(*Since initial broadcast of this report, we have received further clarification and guidance from the USDE on how to calculate the proportional distribution of Stabilization funds between K-12 education and higher education. Based on this guidance, K-12 will receive $129 milllion over the three years, approx. $6 mill less than initially calculated; those funds will be added to the allocation for higher education.)
Recovery Funds and the Development of Early Childhood Public Preschool Programs

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) places a strong emphasis on early childhood programs, encourages their development/expansion, and allows flexibility in the use of Recovery funds to encourage early childhood programs.
 
School systems that are considering development of early childhood public preschool programs have been invited to a conference on May 4 where they will have an opportunity to:
  • Develop an understanding of the national perspective on early childhood education initiatives;
  • Examine Maine models of public preschool delivery;
  • Review ARRA specific information about funds that can be used for the development of early childhood programs;
  • Review the application process for implementation of public preschool programs;
  • Examine collaboration models at both the national and local levels; and
  • Learn about the Maine Department of Education's plans to facilitate and support this work through collaboration coaches.
For more information on the conference, see Informational Letter 94, sent April 22.
 
New Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education has posted new guidance on its website regarding funds for:
These and other guidance materials can be found on the USDE Recovery web site. They are also linked from the Maine Department of Education Recovery web site.
 
Federal Funds for Laptops

State Fiscal Stabilization Funds under ARRA, as well as some Title I (in "Schoolwide" schools), Title IID, IDEA and other federal funds may be used to help pay for part of the local share of the cost to bring laptops to high school students. The Legislature is currently considering a proposal that would give Commissioner Gendron authority to sign a contract with Apple to expand the laptops from grades 7 and 8 to all high school students at an extremely favorable rate.
 
The deal would realize the long-standing goal of deploying personal computing opportunities to all students in grades 7 through 12, including the laptop itself, as well as significant research, simulation and other learning opportunities, professional development for teachers, and many other supports. In a survey of high schools last week, almost half said they will participate, another 40 percent said they are continuing to investigate and work with their school boards, and 12 percent said they would not participate at this time.
 
Information on what federal funds can be used to support the laptops can be found in the Recovery Q&A.


 
Learning about ARRA

The Department continues to reach out and share information in as many venues as possible. Recent and pending presentations include:
  • Kennebec Valley and Western Maine Curriculum Coordinators, David Connerty-Marin, April 9
  • Maine Association of Directors of Special Education (MADSEC), Jaci Holmes, April 16
    This presentation was recorded as an online webinar that will be accessible from the Recovery web site in the next few days. Jaci and David both presented the USDE PowerPoint presentation
  • Title I Coordinators, Rachelle Tome, May 7
    Rachelle will present a modified PowerPoint presentation, which will be made available on the Recovery website.
Application for Recovery IDEA Funds is Ready and Online
 
Separate from the regular IDEA funds available each year, the ARRA includes additional IDEA funds for school systems. The Maine Department of Education has posted a web-based application form for these funds. School systems have been informed about how to access the web application. The application for the regular 2009-10 IDEA funds (those not associated with ARRA) will be available after USDE announces the regular grant awards.
 
It is important to remember that there are strict reporting requirements on the use of all Recovery (ARRA) funds and that school systems will have to report separately on the use of regular IDEA, Title I, etc. funds and Recovery IDEA, Title I, etc. funds.
 
The application for ARRA Title I funds is in the works.

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