AASA Statement on Senate Passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

February 10, 2009

Contact:
Amy Vogt
703-875-0723
avogt@aasa.org

 

ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Association of School Administrators, the professional organization for school superintendents and other school system leaders, issued the following statement on the U.S. Senate’s passage today of HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

Today the U.S. Senate passed a federal stimulus proposal containing funding for American public education. While the Senate proposal includes essential funding during a time of severe state budget shortfalls, it falls dramatically short of the investment in the nation’s economy presented in the House version of the bill.

The Senate proposal puts at risk thousands of school construction jobs promised in the House version and thousands of school personnel jobs likely to disappear without increased investment in education.

Public schools are an integral component to economic recovery and growth. Investing in a strong public school system is sound economic policy because it produces a strong workforce, fueling the economic diversity essential to a recovering economy.

As the Senate and the House work to create the final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, AASA is calling on Congress to take the following steps to both stimulate the economy and invest in our nation’s future:

Restore $14 billion for school modernization funding contained in the House version of the bill. This federal investment will help create thousands of jobs in local communities across the country and improve the educational environment for children. An AASA survey identified $22 billion in public school construction and renovation projects, including $16 billion in projects that schools could implement almost immediately, putting Americans to work right away. Further, most of the nation’s schools were built before 1970 and are in urgent need of modernization. Schools that are technologically up-to-date, environmentally sound and structurally safe will provide a better learning environment and will help ensure the workers of tomorrow can compete in the increasingly competitive, global environment.

Maintain the secretary of education’s ability to grant waivers to states and local school districts that cannot meet the “maintenance of effort” or the "supplement, not supplant" requirements in the Senate bill. In order for the federal investment to have the greatest impact on saving staffing positions and services for students, local districts need maximum flexibility in spending federal dollars to supplant their efforts, especially in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Without this flexibility, districts will be prevented from using the dollars to avert layoffs. As a result, hundreds of thousands of school personnel could lose their jobs, expanding the unemployment rolls and reducing services to the nation’s children.

Maintain maximum flexibility in the funding for Title I and the Individuals with Disability Education Act by eliminating the set-aside funding for early childhood programs called for in the Senate version of the bill. The Senate bill would set aside 15 percent of the increased Title I and IDEA funds for services for preschool-aged children. This would restrict the ability of school districts to decide where the dollars are most needed, restrict the ability of high school districts to spend the money, and create a duplication within IDEA for preschool programs under Section 619.

Maintain the House funding levels and provisions related to school based Medicaid claiming. The Senate bill would slash funding to the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund that would help fill state shortfalls in education funding. In addition, the Senate bill would cut the proposed increase to Head Start programming in half, from $2 billion to just $1 billion, limiting the number of children in poverty that could be served. Finally, the House bill contains an important provision that would extend the moratoria preventing the elimination of school based Medicaid claiming until June 30, 2009. The current moratorium expires on April 1, 2009, leaving little time for the administration to reverse the regulations being proposed.

 

About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders across the United States. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.