As long as there's no state budget, about a billion dollars in
federal funds intended to re-hire laid-off California teachers
could sit in the bank unspent. As Capital Public Radio's Ben
Adler reports, some Sacramento-area school districts say it would
be irresponsible to spend that money without a final budget
Byrd: "Let's see, open your book
up to - subtracting across the zeroes."
It's Math time for Lynette Byrd's third graders at Elk Grove
Unified School District's Edna Batey Elementary.
Byrd: "It's number seven, 307
The students write the problem down on small, individual white
boards. And Mrs. Byrd walks among them, whispering some help
here and there.
Byrd: "Seventeen take away eight
But because of teacher layoffs and budget cuts, there are 24
students in Mrs. Byrd's class this year. Last year, there
Byrd: "When you have 20
children, you're able to walk around and maybe spend eight minutes
per child going around and talking to them about what they're
learning and give special instructions. When you have four
more, that cuts it down considerably."
This is precisely the gap Congressional Democrats and
President Obama intended to fill when they passed legislation last
month to save or re-hire up to 160,000 teachers nationwide.
The checks to California school districts should be in the mail by
the end of Friday. And districts like Elk Grove Unified can't
wait to get their share of the funds. Here's Superintendent
Ladd: "You could use it to
reverse some furlough days. You could use it to augment some
salary rollbacks that people have made. You can add
But - he won't. At least, not yet.
Ladd: "Without having a state
budget, I think it would be foolhardy to make decisions in this
… because his OWN budget for THIS school year is one giant
question mark. Many other districts in the state are waiting,
too. Rick Pratt is with the California School Boards
Pratt: "Without knowing what
their total level of resources will be - including this federal
money - is sort of like a pilot trying to fly a jumbo jet with no
Some districts aren't waiting for a state budget. In
northern Sacramento, Twin Rivers Unified says it's already hired
back 45 teachers and four custodians - even though the federal
funds haven't even arrived yet.