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Ed chief questions use of teacher jobs money

August 31, 2010

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is raising concerns about the use of federal teacher jobs funding to cover the state budget deficit. She says even if the move is allowable, it’s not appropriate.

“To have what is a state-wide budget deficit fall solely on the shoulders of education is something that I’m not comfortable with,” Gist said, adding that she had hoped to use some of the money to make up for the loss of federal stimulus funding in the 2012 budget.

“If these funds were used for their intended purpose which is to avoid the loss of education jobs, then that could maybe in some cases be needed for this year,” Gist said. “But most certainly needed for next year when budget projections are particularly troubling.”

WRNI broke the news yesterday that Governor Don Carcieri has proposed reducing state aid to school districts by some $33-million, and replacing the money with funds from the teacher jobs act Congress passed earlier this month.

That would allow the state to fill a hole in its Medicaid budget, but it places an unfair burden on school districts to balance the budget, said Gist.

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