Kiryas Yosel School District Stimulus Aid – $6.3M – Would Lead Region in School Assistance

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vfiles8060The Times Herald-Record reports: The Hudson Valley’s  smallest school district will get more federal aid than any other in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties under the formulas used to distribute education funding in the impending economic stimulus package. Excluding the school construction funding that has largely been dropped from the plan, the Kiryas Yoel School District, which serves about 280 special-education students and has a roughly $13 million budget this year, will get $6.3 million in stimulus money over two years, according to aid figures provided by Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office.

By comparison, the projected funding totals, minus construction money, for the area’s two largest districts will be $5.5 million for Newburgh, which has an enrollment of roughly 12,230, and $2 million for Monroe-Woodbury, which serves more than 7,500 students.

The explanation for that disparity lies in federal education programs that would drive the funding: Title I, which is for low-income students; and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which is for special-education students.

Targeting the aid that way inevitably directs an inordinate share to Kiryas Yoel, a school district that exclusively serves special-needs children in a community with high poverty rates.

The Senate version of the stimulus package dropped $20 billion in school construction funding from the House bill and trimmed $40 billion from the $79 billion that would go to states to avoid chopping spending on education and other areas.

The $790 billion compromise plan announced Wednesday largely sided with the Senate on those changes, restoring just $4 billion for school construction and $5 billion to the so-called state stabilization funds, The New York Times reported.

Middletown schools Superintendent Ken Eastwood had warned earlier that day that reducing the stabilization funding could undermine the purpose of having school money in the package: to avert the layoffs of school employees that might result from state budget cuts.

“I have no idea why the Senate would eliminate that and leave in things that have nothing to do with creating or stabilizing jobs,” Eastwood said.

He said Title I and special-ed funding alone wouldn’t soften the blow of the nearly $2 million in proposed state aid cuts that Middletown faces. That’s because the federal money is reserved for specific programs and can’t be mixed into the district’s general fund, Eastwood said.

{Times Herald-Record/ Newscenter}


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