Janesville52°

Janesville schools get $1.8 million in stimulus money to help keep staff

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Jason Smathers
August 21, 2010
— The Janesville School District just got a generous helping of back-to-school supplies.

Now the district has to figure out how to use them.


The district will receive $1.8 million in federal stimulus money to help retain or hire new teachers and staff.


Superintendent Karen Schulte said she’s told her cabinet to review over the weekend the 20-page funding guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Education so they can begin discussing plans for the money next week.


Schulte said she wants to look into using the money to offset costs and help close the district’s budget deficit. Any money left over likely would be used for staff and teachers to help reach the district’s goals for the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.


Because the money is available for only two years, Schulte said positions hired for 2010-11 might result in unemployment costs once the money runs out.


“We certainly wouldn’t turn the money over, but we want to remain fiscally conservative,” Schulte said.


Each of the state’s school districts will receive their share of $180 million in federal funding to help hire, rehire or maintain teachers and support staff.


The money comes as part of the Education Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Aug. 10. The bill authorized $10 billion in stimulus funds for school districts across the country.


The U.S. Department of Education estimates it would save approximately 161,000 jobs nationwide. A press release from Tammy Baldwin’s office estimates the money would save about 3,000 teaching jobs in Wisconsin.


The money is meant for the 2010-11 school year but can used for teacher and staff retention the following year if money is left over.


Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction spokesman Patrick Gaspar said the money is allocated based on the state’s general aid formula, which takes population, students in the district and property tax revenue into account.


As a result, Rock County districts will receive a total of $5.1 million.


Some districts already are making plans for the money.


Evansville Community School District Administrator Heidi Carvin said she has been asking staff at Evansville schools if they could use extra support staff or teachers. Carvin said while they’re still in the planning stages of how to use the $304,617, she’s identified 20 or so items that the school board will review at Monday’s meeting.


“Most of those positions are a few hours a week, but it’s really trying to piece things together based on needs we’ve identified for a single year,” Carvin said.


While the money certainly helps, it has a limited reach.


Districts can use the money to hire new, retain or rehire laid off teachers and support staff. It also can be used to reduce furlough days or alter teacher salary schedules. It cannot be used for any administrative costs, contracted staff, or costs incurred before Aug. 10, 2010.


Wisconsin will receive the money in approximately two weeks, but local districts can start planning for the money immediately, Gaspar said.



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