Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Stimulus fight

As we know, HISD is reducing its workforce, including teachers, due to budget shortfalls. The Houston Federation of Teachers says that this is happening while there are a lot of unspent stimulus funds.

Houston Federation of Teachers leader Gayle Fallon pointed to Texas Education Agency spread sheets showing federal stimulus dollars and annual formula dollars, which are based on enrollment.

“We’re looking at hundreds of millions of dollars in unspent federal funds,” she said.

She’s talking about roughly $300 million, the majority of it consisting of federal stimulus dollars. The issue is being highlighted in The Houston Federation of Teachers’ next newsletter, which raised the question: Why is so much money left on the table when so many teachers might lose their jobs?

HISD Spokesman Norm Uhl said he has the answer.

“You can’t use it to offset general fund shortfalls,” Uhl said. “Federal funds have very specific rules you can use it for “A” but you can’t use it for “B.”

Fallon sent me a copy of her document, which you can see here. I emailed Uhl for a response, and this is what he sent to me:

The simple explanation is that some of those funds are for this year (through summer school) and will be spent this year. Some of the stimulus dollars we are spending half this year and half next year and there are some two-year funds that are part of next year’s budget. All of this money is already plugged into either this year’s budget or next year’s budget. It is NOT new money that can be used to cover general fund shortfalls. Federal funds have very specific rules or strings attached. You can spend it on “a” but not on “B” and you cannot supplant using federal dollars. In other words you cannot cover General Fund expenditures with certain federal funds. It’s called supplanting and it’s illegal.

I have to say, I’m still trying to figure all of this out. Not just this argument over stimulus funds, the whole debate over what Superintendent Grier is doing and whether or not it will be successful, where “successful” means better student performance and better graduation rates. I don’t know how I feel just yet about a lot of the stuff that’s going on in HISD. When I get it all straight in my head, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’m going to present whatever information I can. I hope it’s helpful to you as well.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.