Archive for Friday, February 13, 2009

Federal stimulus package could boost state K-12 education

February 13, 2009

A federal stimulus package that appears nearing approval in Congress would shower money on Kansas schools as the state Legislature tries to cut education funding.

“It’s a tremendous amount of money,” Kansas Education Commissioner Alexa Posny said Friday.

Preliminary estimates indicate Kansas schools would receive approximately $500 million over two years under the $790 billion federal bill, Posny said.

Because of the current state budget crisis, the Legislature has sent to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius a bill that would cut public schools by $32 million in base state aid and special education programs in the current school year.

Posny said the federal stimulus money would apply to the next school year, and the one after that.

And, she said, there is a major question about whether states will be allowed to access the federal money if they cut their own state funding below a certain level.

Federal officials are calling for states to establish a “maintenance of effort” because they don’t want the federal monies to simply replace state funds that had been cut.

Posny said it’s hoped that question will be settled in the next few months and will provide guidance to legislators as they tackle the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

State lawmakers face an estimated $200 million budget deficit in the current fiscal year, and upwards of a $1 billion budget shortfall in the next year.

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