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Where will the teacher jobs funding go?

August 31, 2010

Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri plans to apply for about $33 million from the $10 billion teacher jobs fund Congress created earlier this summer. But the funding may not mean a boost for Rhode Island school districts. The governor is recommending that Rhode Island decrease state funding to public schools in an amount equal to the new federal funds. The money would in turn be used to help fill a $38 million hole in the state Medicaid budget.

“That funding has to come from somewhere,” says Carcieri’s spokesperson Amy Kempe, who says the move is similar to what the state was allowed to do with stimulus funding for schools.

“They were allowed to replace the state dollars with the federal dollars, assuring that the education funding did not decrease,” Kempe says. “Which in essence does support retention of jobs.”

The federal teacher jobs act was advertised as a mechanism to create and retain teacher jobs at a time when many school districts are facing funding cuts. Federal education officials estimate that Rhode Island’s share could fund up to 500 positions.

States do have to make certain assurances to qualify for the funding, including a promise not to decrease education funding below 2006 levels. Kempe says Carcieri is confident Rhode Island will qualify for the funding.

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