Stimulus offers state educators opportunities

JACKSON – More than $280 million in federal stimulus funds will be used during the current fiscal year to plug budget holes in funding for public education and, in some cases, to enhance programs such as special education.
For starters, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program will get $152 million in stimulus funds to offset a dramatic drop in state revenue collections.
The program provides the basics of operating local school districts, such as paying for teachers and transportation.
Without the stimulus funds, officials have said cuts in K-12 education would have been required, most likely resulting in teacher layoffs.
While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly called the stimulus package, already is helping to pay for education basics, state Department of Education officials say additional funds could be available for Mississippi.
These funds are designed not to pay for the basics, but for innovative programs that are intended to improve learning opportunities.
Many funds will be available to Mississippi schools in the form of competitive grants. The biggest is the Race to the Top program, which has $4.35 billion to award to states in the form of competitive grants for innovative learning programs.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal