By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 1, 2009 4:46 PM
Education Secretary Arne Duncan today said $44 billion in federal stimulus funds is available to states, an influx intended to prevent teacher layoffs and program cuts and improve education for disadvantaged children.
Duncan, in a visit to Doswell E. Brooks Elementary School in Prince George's County, said states are being asked in exchange for the money to commit to boosting standards, ensuring that all schools have qualified teachers and intervening to improve poor-performing schools.
"Given our economic circumstances, it's critical that this money go out quickly," said Duncan, who spoke from the school library before reading to first-graders. "But it's even more important that it be spent wisely."
Overall, the stimulus law pumps about $100 billion -- the largest cash investment ever for public education -- into public schools, universities and early childhood programs.
Maryland, expected to receive about $1.5 billion in education aid, plans to use about $721 million to close state budget gaps over two years. Prince George's County schools are estimated to receive about $142 million in that time.
Virginia intends to use about $365 million of its expected $2 billion to backfill state budget cuts in the next fiscal year.
The District will get about $227 million, according to National Education Association estimates.
Nationwide, the first batch of stimulus funding includes $11.4 billion targeted largely to help students who live in poverty and those with disabilities. That money, doled out based on formulas that consider factors such as the percentages of children from low-income families, is available immediately, federal education officials said.
States must apply for a piece of the larger share of the first batch, $32.6 billion. Of that, $26.6 billion must be used to prevent layoffs and improve public schools and colleges. Governors can use the remaining $6 billion for education, public safety or other government services.
Federal education officials today sent applications and guidelines to states. They said each state's share of the $32.6 billion will be released within two weeks of approval of applications.