STIMULUS $ FOR SCHOOLS
We've all heard President Obama tout the Green Recovery. Now it's time to work on getting that cash to flow to schools. The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes nearly $355 billion for education and housing assistance, energy efficiency projects, transportation, infrastructure, and construction, along with $144 billion in state and local fiscal relief. This all spells opportunity for hard-up California schools.The funding is intended primarily to create and preserve jobs and to help stimulate our faltering economy, and grants will be fast-tracked, so it's essential that applicants prepare to take advantage of these opportunities right away.
But in California, due to our worsening budget deficit, it is not yet clear what federal funds may flow to schools. The California Department of Education was anticipating receiving $6 billion in stimulus funds through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, as well as up to $2.6 billion earmarked for specific educational programs. Yet, the Governor may further cut what is available in the Stabilization Fund, as well as demand additional cuts to schools. On top of all this uncertainty, funds cannot be released to schools until the State Legislature authorizes it and set guidelines for the use of the funds. We are hping that more information will be available soon.
But all hope is not lost! There are things you can do. Follow some of our ideas below for getting more information and taking action.
1. GET INFORMED
Coalition for Adequate School Housing is providing workshops and information about ARRA funds for new school bonds, and other funds. CASH also works with Californians for School Facilities and provides information on how schools can get involved with influencing state and federal policy.
California School Boards Association is providing updates on ARRA opportunities for California schools
2. GET CREATIVE
Tom Kelly of The Helios Project in Berkeley, shares that federal agencies are also preparing to make grants. For example, Kelly reports that "US EPA has received a large infusion of money to replace and retrofit diesel fleets for cities, school, districts, and ports. Called the National Diesel Emissions Reduction Program, California will receive approximately $30M in grants that are targeted at replacing older diesel engines and equipment. School districts are eligible for a significant share of the grants." The EPA is currently doing outreach to help potential applicants. Learn more at
Other funds for energy efficiency in schools should be coming available through the California Energy Commission or the Governor's office. Check the links above to get information as guidelines become available.
3. GET ACTIVE: We encourage you to Send an Email, write or call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to demand that he set aside the maximum allowable portion of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for schools in California, including funds for repair of school facilities.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )
To paraphrase a 2003 report from UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA):
California's dilapidated, overcrowded schools expose students to unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and limit their learning. Mold from dampness and humidity leads to asthma, coughing, and headaches. Pest infestations contribute to asthma and allergies. Exposure to lead-based paint causes developmental disorders. Even small levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene are toxic. Students learn less in dilapidated school buildings. Temperature, noise level, and other environmental factors all impact student performance. Rundown facilities reduce teachers' effectiveness and weaken their commitment to teaching. When physical conditions improve, so does the teaching.
Tell Governor Schwarzenegger that you believe the State should use stimulus funds to ensure that every California schoolchild has a clean, safe, and functional facility in which to learn. According to IDEA and in reference to the State's "good repair standard," such adequate facilities must have:
- clean, functioning bathrooms
- adequate classroom space
- outdoor space to exercise
- heating, cooling, ventilation, and electrical outlets that work
- structurally sound buildings with functioning doors and windows , and
- pests and vermin are safely controlled, among other criteria.
Sufficient funds should go to fix and maintain all schools, but schools in the worst condition should be given funds first. Please help California schoolkids get their fair share of stimulus dollars!
March 24, 2009