The first streams of federal stimulus funds are flowing to schools, but administrators aren't exactly riding the gravy train. In a new national survey conducted by the American Association of School Administrators, many K-12 school district leaders said they appreciate the opportunities of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—designed to provide approximately $100 billion for school improvement programs, grants, special education, and other initiatives—but a lack of flexibility in the funding and a pressing need to fill state and local budget shortfalls are obstacles that stand in the way of saving jobs and promoting real change.
Survey respondents—who included 160 district administrators—said a heightened level of bureaucracy and reporting tied to the stimulus funds has "limited their time and ability to implement education reform and innovation." More than two thirds of respondents said the stimulus dollars are either filling funding gaps or represent only marginal growth in funding levels. Districts reported that they are investing the ARRA funds in one-time costs such as professional development, classroom technology, and classroom supplies. Administrators said that because the recovery funding is a one-time deal, they cannot justify hiring new staff.
The AASA is monitoring the recovery act and advocating the greatest flexibility possible in the use of its funding.
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