In a press conference that just wrapped up, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shed a little light on how the school modernization/construction part of the $53.6 billion state stabilization fund in the economic stimulus package is going to work.
In a nutshell, it sounds like school modernization is one of many things school districts will be able to use their money on. The state stabilization fund will be divvied up among school districts by states based on each state’s existing formula for distributing money for schools. Modernization merely got added to the list of approved areas for funding.
If you remember, the House wanted a separate line item worth $14 billion in school construction grants, which sparked alarm among Republicans in the House and Senate who didn’t want to create a new federal education program. Instead, in the compromise, the state stabilization fund grew from the $39 billion the House originally wanted to this final, $53.6 billion. Pelosi called the amount for school construction “still very, very substantial.”
There are also slightly revised numbers for the different components of the stabilization fund:
*$39.5 billion will go to local school districts to fill their budgets and/or modernize schools.
*$5 billion goes to school districts for “meeting key performance measures,” a fund to be administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
*$8.8 billion goes to states to use for “high-priority needs,” which can include education and school modernization.
Read House Appropriations’ summary here.
Again, we’ll know more once the legislation is available. But without a school construction line item, school districts looking for a big pot of money from which to draw for their construction projects will probably be disappointed.