RPS receives $5.25 million in Stimulus money from the state

March 25, 2009
By

Journal Staff Report

Federal stimulus money has trickled down to the Revere School Department via an announcement from Gov. Deval Patrick last Thursday.

Revere got $5.25 million from the state’s allotment of stimulus money, which was the fourth highest amount given out statewide. Only larger districts like Worcester, Springfield and Brockton received larger amounts. Many schools in the state didn’t get anything.

The money was part of a lump sum that the state opted to use in order to fill funding gaps that existed in several schools statewide as a result of the governor’s budget cuts. By law, schools are supposed to get a certain amount of money each year from the state. However, until last Thursday, Revere and many other schools hadn’t been promised that foundation budget amount.

“As a percentage of budget, we had the largest funding gap in the state,” said Dakin. “We’re No. 4 in dollar value, but as a percentage of the budget, we’re the largest.”

That budget gap was a direct result of a larger enrollment and more students under the poverty line, according to Dakin and officials at the state Department of Education (DOE).

The $5.25 million score completely fills the school department’s foundation budget gap for the coming fiscal year. However, Dakin said the schools aren’t out of hot water just yet.

Because of drastic measures taken last January concerning cutting back on heat, electricity and many other similar items that have been termed “Green Savings,” but are really just energy efficiency measures, the schools will have about $1.5 million to carry forward to next year’s budget.

Nevertheless, Dakin said, they needed more than $7 million to keep every program fully funded. That means there is an $865,000 budget gap that still exists in the schools.

However, there will be no teachers or staff lost in making those cuts.

“That gap will have to be made up,” he said. “The School Committee has already decided to make that gap up without cuts to personnel.”

He said they would likely do things such as fine tune the fuel and electricity accounts, rethink voluntary transportation areas such as field trips, and accounts for replacing materials and technology.

“I’m ecstatic the gap is funded, but it’s not like we’re rolling in money,” he said. “Now, we’ll have a typical hard budget year instead of a crisis. Many budget requests will not be awarded.”

* * *

In addition to the stimulus money that came down last Thursday, Dakin said sometime late this week, the city is expecting to receive around $3.7 million in direct federal stimulus money.

That money will have a completely different purpose than last week’s money.

It can only be used for special education, teacher training and academic support programs.

“That money can’t be used to bolster fuel accounts,” said Dakin.

Dakin said they would most likely bring back the Grade 3 MCAS summer reading program that was very successful, but was axed a few years back under the strain of thinner budgets.

“I would suspect it would be able to be used to put the Grade 3 reading program back in and to put a new summer school program in for other kids who might need help or for kids who are doing well and want to strengthen themselves over the summer,” he said.

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