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Federal Recovery Package
INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 70
TO: Superintendents of Schools
The purpose of this Informational Letter is to reiterate and re-confirm information I have shared with you by email and conference call regarding the federal recovery package, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This letter does not contain new information.
While there are a number of still-unanswered questions about how much money will flow, how it will flow, and what requirements will be placed on the use of the money and reporting, Governor John Baldacci has confirmed that he will use the first $27.8 million of the state stabilization fund in the ARRA to restore funds that were cut from General Purpose Aid to education in the current fiscal year.
SAUs will see their monthly subsidy checks restored to reflect a full restoration of the GPA for fiscal year 2008-09.
We do not have an exact date for the restoration of funds. We are waiting to receive from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) the required application which the Governor must file. We have already started gathering the information and data we expect will be part of that application so that the Governor will be able to file the application within days of receiving instructions.
Once we have the money, the Governor will issue a Financial Order restoring the previously reduced funds to each SAU.
It is important to remember that there are federal requirements on the use of these funds. Broadly, the money is to be used for programs covered by ESEA (including Title I), IDEA, Family/Adult Literacy, Carl Perkins, and a few other programs. It cannot be used for sports, extra-curricular activities, the purchase or upgrade of vehicles, or for new construction, among other items. We anticipate more detailed guidance this week from the USDE on how the funds may/may not be used. There also will be federal reporting requirements.
While we have most, but not all, of the preliminary statewide figures for anticipated funds, we do not have SAU-specific breakdowns. Some of you have seen spreadsheets. These may or may not give an accurate prediction of your actual funding. None of these spreadsheets is official. Several are based on the federal Title I formula, whereas Maine has an approved state formula for the distribution of Title I funds. Furthermore, we have yet to receive word on how much of the anticipated funding will be set aside for statewide administration, how much for discretionary use, and how much will flow through to SAUs. We will share figures once we are confident that they are accurate as they apply to our situation in Maine.
You can find some of the statewide figures on our recovery web page: www.maine.gov/education/recovery . We will post SAU spreadsheets as they become available.
As you know, I was in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday, February 25 along with more than 35 other state education commissioners to meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. We were encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and the clear intent to partner with states. I had anticipated learning more specifics about how the funds could be used. Instead, Secretary Duncan told us he wanted to hear from us before developing the final guidance, which was an extremely welcome approach. Secretary Duncan told us to expect guidance, including the application form for the stimulus funds, this week. As soon as I have this guidance, I will share it with all of you and I will also schedule a conference call with you to review the guidance.
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