MacIver News Service – Government records indicate thousands of teachers in Wisconsin were hired or retained because of the Stimulus last year, but many of them could be let go now that the one-time money is gone.
According to recipient reported data found on the federal government’s stimulus website, www.recovery.gov, Wisconsin districts received a billion dollars in awards from the US Department of Education. The government claims those awards created or retained 6,556.44 full-time positions.
The MacIver Institute conducted an informal survey of school districts asking how they are responding to decreasing state aid. Of the one hundred districts that responded, more than half said they were considering layoffs. Some admitted teachers hired for stimulus programs will be let go.
In Mondovi, Cherie Gullicksrud, superintendent, said, “Our district is using the ARRA funding for activities and positions we knew up front would not be continued once the funding is no longer available.”
Jim Erickson, Webster School District Superintendent, said, “If we don’t have any retirements, the positions we saved with ARRA will be laid off.”
Some districts are attempting to keep some stimulus jobs, while laying off others.
The Oconto Unified School District superintendent, Sara Croney, said “For the 2 Title I math teachers at a .63FTE that we hired using ARRA funds we will eliminate those positions when the ARRA funds are gone. The .5 FTE Early Childhood teacher that we are currently funding out of ARRA special ed.; we will still need the position is the student enrollment is there for that program. Currently we have a reprieve because ARRA funds that .5 FTE for 2009-10 and will fund it for 2010-11.”
Dean Isaacson, district administrator in Platteville, said “We’ve made every effort to spend ARRA dollars in a manner that won’t require continuation funding, however we may have one or two teaching positions that will need to be added to our local personnel budget when the ARRA funds are gone. During the last few years we have experienced enrollment increases and hope those increases will cover the added position(s).”
Other districts, like Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah School District, tried not to spend stimulus money on new employees, recognizing that as a continued expense.
Ann Buechel Haack, district administrator, said, “In our district we used the ARRA stimulus money we received in our district for one-time expenses so there would not be a funding cliff for those items the next year.”
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction said it does not keep track of districts’ decisions whether to keep or layoff stimulus funded employees. MacIver News will continue to follow this story as school districts across Wisconsin set their annual budgets this spring.