The Monroe County Community School Corp. will get almost $2 million in federal funds from the Education Jobs Fund program approved by Congress this month.
According to information posted by the Indiana Department of Education, the MCCSC’s allocation is $1,965,296. Richland-Bean Blossom Community Schools will get $508,224. The Bloomington Project School, a public charter school, will get $37,326.
While school officials are welcoming the money, it comes too late to reverse the job and program cuts that the MCCSC and many other districts made this year.
Gov. Mitch Daniels submitted Indiana’s application for $207 million in federal money on Friday, well ahead of the Sept. 9 deadline, Department of Education CFO Lance Rhodes said in a memo. State officials expect that school districts can start receiving their share of the money in November.
Schools will have until Sept. 30, 2012 to spend the funds. According to federal guidelines, they can be used to pay salaries and benefits for teachers and “other employees who provide school-level educational and related services,” including principals and assistant principals, instructional aides, school nurses, custodians and cafeteria workers. The money can’t be used for general administrative expenses, such as central office and school board operations.
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, in a letter Friday, urged superintendents to think of the money as “one-time funding.” He suggested they wait to make spending commitments until the legislature decides how much money to provide schools for the next two years, a decision that won’t come until the end of April 2011.
“While record levels of total funding (federal, state and local) have been made available to schools for 2009 and 2010,” Bennett wrote, “the next budget cycle will be very difficult.”
MCCSC Superintendent J.T. Coopman, speaking Friday on radio station WFIU’s “Noon Edition” program, said the district faces “a real dilemma” in deciding how to treat one-time funding. “It will give us an opportunity to do something for one year, and then that money goes away,” he said. He suggested some of the money could be used for school literacy coaches, reflecting an MCCSC priority.
The federal money doesn’t eliminate the need for the MCCSC school-funding referendum that will be on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election. The district is asking voters to approve a property-tax increase of up to 14.1 cents per $100 assessed value to offset spending cuts made this year. The increase would produce about $7.5 million a year for seven years.