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Capital Region school districts to share $84M

Capital Region school districts to share $84M

Capital Region school districts would receive about $84 million over two years as part of the federa

Capital Region school districts would receive about $84 million over two years as part of the federal economic stimulus package being developed in Washington, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday.

The school money will be delivered using the formulas under Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to Schumer’s office.

School aid breakdown

To see a breakdown by district, click here.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said he doesn’t expect any major changes to the figures in final versions of the package, and he said the money should be headed out to schools by April 1.

“The idea is to get the money out quickly because the economy is in bad shape,” Schumer said during a conference call with media Wednesday.

If approved, the money should wind up in the hands of school districts prior to the upcoming budget votes.

Any increase in aid would be helpful in the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, Superintendent James Hoffman said Wednesday.

Hoffman said federal school assistance under Title I — a form of general operating aid for high-needs districts — has been reduced for the past several years and the New York state budget proposal in its current form would cut roughly $587,000 out of the school’s funding.

Any funding increase, Hoffman said, will be appreciated by schools and taxpayers.

“We’re in the process of trying to cut paper clips to find money,” said Hoffman, who added the district is asking staff to use both sides of paper when making photocopies.

According to Schumer’s office, the stimulus package is expected to channel a total of $700,000 to the Fonda-Fultonville district over two years.

That figure includes $120,000 in Title I funding, $300,000 for special education funding and another $210,000 for construction funding, the details of which have not yet been released, according to Schumer’s office.

All together, the five school districts in Montgomery County are in line to receive a total of $5.9 million in federal funding through the initiative.

The Schenectady City School District would receive $10.4 million under the stimulus plan.

Superintendent Eric Ely said such an infusion of money could not hurt. “I really haven’t had a chance to look at what strings are attached to it,” Ely said.

About $2.81 million of the stimulus funding would be designated for the Title I program, which Ely said must be used for general instruction.

“That could potentially absorb the salaries of a number of teachers that we normally pay for out of the general fund. That means we could use the general fund money in other ways,” he said.

Ely has predicted as many as 150 layoffs in the district if Gov. David Paterson’s proposed aid cut of $3.2 million were enacted. He said it was too early to speculate on how many layoffs could be averted with the federal aid.

Also, the district’s special education costs are around $22 million a year. This stimulus bill allocates $2.7 million for special education. If the district could put that money back in the general fund, it would help.

Ely said he was not sure if the district could use the $4.78 million designated for construction funding instead of borrowing money for projects it already has in the pipeline.

The district is in the middle of a multiyear construction plan. The latest project in the plan is building an addition onto King Magnet School to make it a kindergarten through grade eight facility.

The school funding totals follow news that Capital Region counties are in line for about $42 million in aid to help fund their portion of Medicaid.

That funding is also part of the $825 billion stimulus package called The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Schumer said he expects the Senate to vote on next week.

Details were not available Wednesday, but Schumer’s office also announced that the stimulus package will also include money for public school repair and construction that’s not included in the $84 million total.

The school construction funding will be dedicated to repair and construction with an emphasis on energy efficiency and boosted Internet infrastructure, according to Schumer’s office.

Schumer said he expected to have more details about the school building aid in the near future.

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