PWC BOCS Votes To Wait on “Stimulus” Funds for Schools

The PWC Board of County Supervisors rejected a request by PWCS to allocate $15 million so that the district can being hiring additional teachers for the 2010-2011 school year.

The PWC BOCS holds the purse strings in our county and controls funding.  PWCS believes it is set to receive $15 million in federal funds from the Keep Our Educators Working Act for hiring or retaining teachers. As the school year is set to begin in a just a few more days, the district wanted to begin hiring new teaches now, but can not hire any new teachers until the funds needed to pay them are allocated to the school district by the BOCS.    Hence the request for the $15 million allocation to begin hiring and the special session of the BOCS.

Here are the details:

The Keep Our Educators Working Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in early August.  The bill allocated $10 billion to states for public education to avoid layoffs, hire new teachers or support staff, and / or eliminate furloughs.  States must apply to the US Department of Education to receive the money by September 9th.  The US Dept. of Ed has promised to review applications within 45 days of receipt.  While no final decisions have been made, the Virginia Department of Education is expected to apply.  Based on the expected allocation of Keep Our Educators Working Act funds to Virginia, PWCS believes that it will receive $15 million of those funds.

The funds must be used to (a) avoid layoffs of teachers or support staff, (b) hire new teachers or support staff, but not administrators, or, (c) eliminate furloughs, and may not be used for capital projects.  The funds must be used a quickly as possible for the 2010 – 2011 school year, but can be budgeted or allocated to the 2011 – 2012 school year.  Additional funds will not be forthcoming – this allocation, assuming its approved and happens, will be a one time allocation.

PWCS had requested that the BOCS allocate $15 million of county funds, in advance of the state / federal allocation, so that the district could begin hiring an estimated 180 new teachers immediately.  Officials with the school district expressed their belief that hiring teachers for one year would provide sufficient relief to our overcrowded classrooms, albeit temporary, to be justified.

This request ran head on into BOCS fiscal policies.  BOCS fiscal policies stipulate that one time only funds can not be used for ongoing operations and that hiring of staff can not occur until the funds for those staff have been budgeted and allocated.  In short, under BOCS fiscal policies, the BOCS can not allocate any funds to the school district until those funds have been given to the county by the state.  Since the US Dept of Ed hasn’t allocated any funds to Virgina and the Virginia Dept of Education hasn’t allocated any funds to PWCS,  the BOCS could not allocate the $15 million to PWCS at this time.

As such, the BOCS resolved not to allocate additional funds to PWCS until the amount of funds to be allocated from the US Dept of Ed and Virginia Dept of Ed are known and the rules governing their use are better understood.

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