could see stimulus funds this month
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/hourlyupdate/283623.phpPHOENIX — By the end of the month, Arizona school districts could begin seeing badly need federal stimulus dollars, officials said.
The first installment, about $186.5 million, will arrive in late March according to a timeline released by the U.S. Department of Education.
The cash will flow directly to schools to help pay for educational needs of low-income students, such as extra tutoring, and students in special education. It is about half the stimulus money dedicated to these funds.
State universities beaten up by budget cuts could begin receiving money by mid-April.
Arizona is set to receive a total of $4.4 billion from the stimulus package.
About $1.4 billion is targeted to help schools and universities save jobs, prevent program cuts and keep tuition from rising out of control despite the state’s plummeting revenues and widening budget gap.
The money is intended to last the state through 2011, but because Arizona’s shortfalls are so large, the cash is unlikely to last much past 2010, state estimates show.
Lawmakers cut about $135 million from schools and about $145 million from universities in 2008-09, and schools are hoping the state will first replace those losses.
University cuts already represented about a 10 to 12 percent loss of state funds that they usually receive, university officials said.
The stabilization money is the only direct funding they receive from the stimulus package to help pay for faculty and staff and keep tuition rates low.
Lawmakers said schools and universities need to absorb the cuts already made so they can use the money to avoid more midyear cuts this year and significant cuts in next year’s budget.
“We can’t avoid any cuts, but I’m working very hard to keep them low and keep them flexible,” said Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
The state is expected to receive the remainder of the education-stimulus money between July 1 and Sept. 30.