NORFOLK -- Virginia is expecting $246.6 million from a federal emergency jobs bill that will save 3,800 teacher positions in the state.
President Barack Obama signed the $26 billion bill Tuesday immediately after it was passed in the House of Representatives. Supporters said the bill would save 300,000 teachers, police and others from layoffs in this election year.
"We can't stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe," the president said.
The legislation provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or to ensure that more teachers won't be let go before the new school year begins. The Education Department estimates that could save 160,000 jobs.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said his department would streamline the application process to get the money to local school districts quickly. He said three-fourths of the nation's districts have said they would be opening the school year with fewer teachers and "we wanted to avert a crisis for this year."
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) is deciding how to distribute the money, whether to look at the number of Title I students or based on size and wealth of school districts.
School districts must spend the money to rehire or retain teachers.
"Virginia’s budget was passed by making tough spending cuts and not raising taxes. It did not rely on the potential passage of additional federal funds. The additional FMAP funds appropriated today will be used consistent with the federal requirements, and the contingent allocations already made by the Virginia Assembly. This six-month temporary extension provides short term budget support, but there is much to be done to curtail the explosive growth in Medicaid costs, which is becoming the largest budget driver in Virginia’s budget," said McDonnell press secretary Stacey Johnson.
Dr. Kitty Boitnott, president of the Virginia Education Association, said the this is good news for Virginia.
"Although this federal support will not eliminate all school layoffs, it will help our schools react to the $512 million decrease in state funding for this school year. And, it will help the economies of every community in Virginia by putting people back to work."
"The timing of getting this money to our school divisions as soon as possible is critical. The sooner our school boards know how much money they will have, the more likely they can recall some of those who have lost their jobs, adjust class schedules, and restore instructional time," she added.
In North Carolina, the Department of Public Instruction says its nearly $300 million in grants is equal about 4,800 teaching positions. Bill McNeal with the North Carolina Association of School Administrators says local districts will be pleased to receive additional money after cutting expenses before the new school year.