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Stimulus money on the way

First batch of education funding released this week, may reach local schools

Posted: April 6, 2009 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Newhall and Sulphur Springs school districts could receive more than a million in funding for special education and for programs designed to benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged students as the U.S. Department of Education released the first chunk of federal stimulus money earmarked for education this week, local superintendents said Friday.

The Sulphur Springs School District is expecting $1.1 million over a two-year period for students with special needs as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, Superintendent Robert Nolet said.

The money will go toward the growing Sulphur Springs pre-school programs for students with severe special needs, he said.

"More importantly, it's going to help hopefully reduce some of the encroachment into the general fund," he said.

About $200,000 will most likely benefit Sulphur Springs's Title 1 schools over a two-year period, he said.

"Federal stimulus is all one-time money," Nolet said. "You have to be careful with what you do with it."

The district has a "growing Title 1 population" at Leona Cox, Canyon Springs, Mint Canyon and Valley View community schools, he said.

The money is not expected to offset budget cuts because IDEA and Title I funding are considered restricted funds, Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger said.

Newhall School District will receive a two-year infusion of between $30,000 to $50,000 to its Title I school sites, Newhall, McGrath, Peachland and Wiley Canyon elementary schools, Winger said.

"To us, that means that it's one-time use money," Winger said, echoing Nolet.

Still, Winger appreciates money that can be used for funding staff development, summer school, technology upgrades and interventions.

While Winger is unsure how much IDEA funding his district will get, any funding will benefit all of the school districts' school sites and will, he hopes, ease special-education funding challenges.

"We pay big dollars out of the general fund to run special education," Winger said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced this week the U.S. Department of Education awarded California an estimated $634 million for students with special needs and $564 million for socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the first disbursement of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"The federal economic stimulus funds will help us educate some of our most vulnerable students - those in need of special-education services and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged," O'Connell said in a statement. "I have directed divisions within the California Department of Education to get these education recovery funds out to our schools as quickly as possible in order to save and create jobs, as well as improve student achievement."


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