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California Schools Could Receive $1.2 Billion as President Signs $10 Billion Teacher Job Bill

August 12, 2010

The House of Representatives – summoned back to the nation’s capital by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for an unusual summer session – passed the $10 billion federal teacher jobs bill on a largely party line vote on Tuesday, and President Barack Obama signed the legislation later the same day. The legislation, signed by the President after its passage in the House, is aimed at preventing the loss of an estimated 161,000 teacher jobs across the nation as children begin returning to their classrooms.

In Sacramento, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell quickly hailed approved the federal teacher jobs measure, estimating that some $1.2 billion will reach California.

“In California, 16,500 teaching positions could be saved or created by approval of this urgently needed package according to the U.S. Department of Education,” O’Connell said. “Without House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strong leadership and swift action or the persistence of President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), this education relief package would not have been possible. It provides an urgently needed Marshall Plan air lift for our schools.”

While expressing relief and satisfaction over the education measure, O’Connell expressed concern about cuts made to the federal nutrition programs in order to provide funding for the teacher jobs bill. “We are thrilled that teachers will be able to be where they belong—in the classroom. Yet, I urge Congress to find a way to protect our students’ education without shortchanging food nutrition programs or family food stamp assistance. Students who have adequate nutrition are more likely to succeed in school. To ensure student success, we must keep our commitment to the classroom and the family dinner table.”

The House bill, H.R. 1586, approved last week in the U.S. Senate, authorizes $10 billion in education funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Once enacted, the funds will be available in the 2010-11 school year to retain, recall, or rehire former employees and to hire new employees to provide early childhood, elementary, or secondary educational services.

Funds may not be used for general administrative expenses. Under the legislation, states may not use the funds directly or indirectly to:

—Establish, restore, or supplement a rainy day fund;

—Supplant state funds to establish, restore, or supplement a rainy day fund;

—Reduce or retire state debt; or

—Supplant state funds to reduce or retire state debt.

School districts should receive the money in a month or two. The U.S. Department of Education has 45 days after enactment to award the funds, and governors have 30 days from enactment to submit their state’s application.

Source:  California Department of Education