Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Stimulus funds up jobs in state

Stimulus funds have created or retained 6,320 jobs in Wisconsin since February this year and 398,200 jobs nationwide, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.

The report also said Wisconsin has received more than $561 million out of the approximately $1.034 billion in stimulus funds available to states since February.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a conference call Monday the report shows the impact of the stimulus package on American education so far, not an indication of what is to come in the future. He did not say if the report is an estimate of how many jobs could be in jeopardy once stimulus funds are no longer available.

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“I wouldn’t say it foreshadows [possible job cuts]; none of us have a crystal ball,” Duncan said. “This is really a snapshot of where we’re at. I shudder to think of the country where we would be were it not for the funding.”

Duncan also said state and district leaders must carefully plan for the future, when the stimulus funds are no longer available. He called for the use of a clear set of strategies among school systems to ensure growth in achievements after the economy has recovered.

Joe Quick, spokesperson for the Madison Metropolitan School District, said no federal stimulus funds have been used to hire new teachers in MMSD since the Board of Education directed the administration not to spend the extra resources on staffing.

Quick said the bulk of the funds MMSD received were Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds for special education children. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Title I grants give a minimum of $50,000 and maximum of $500,000 to underachieving schools based on the results of standardized testing.

According to the DOE, IDEA provides grants designed to help K-12 programs, preschools and households with special education needs — awarded to states after an application process.

Quick said both IDEA and Title I funds are mostly formula-driven, and both the board and administration are taking steps to make sure they do not encounter problems with the “funding cliff.”

“When that money runs out, you have to replace it with state resources or K-12 will be getting even less money from the state,” Quick said.

Patrick Gasper, spokesperson for DPI, said it is difficult to predict the effect the end of stimulus funding will have on Wisconsin’s students — especially with respect to Wisconsin’s high achievement gap between black and white students.

“There are so many factors that affect student performance,” Gasper said. “In addition to an economic downturn, we’ve seen a 74 percent increase in students that are recorded as being homeless over the last four to five years.”

Duncan stressed the stimulus package is designed to avoid future problems with education.

“What we’re trying to do is stave off an education catastrophe here,” Duncan said. “I think it would’ve been an absolute national disaster had these funds not been available.”

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