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Fran Foster does not know the amount of economic stimulus funds his school district will receive. Neal Gamble does not know, either. But they are hardly alone.
Maintenance and engineering managers in K-12 school districts nationwide are in limbo, along with everyone in their districts, as they try to determine the financial impact the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) will have on their districts.
“We are still waiting to hear the specific details of the funds that will be coming to Virginia Beach,” says Foster, director of school plant services with the Virginia Beach (Va.) City School District.
ARRA lets state governments decide the way they will distribute federal funds, and this added level of government involvement is delaying the arrival of funds. The act contains several other measures designed to help districts raise funds to build new schools and modernize existing facilities, but some specifics of those measures also await clarification.
“There is still a lot of anxiety about what exactly will happen,” says Art Bode, executive director of the National School Plant Managers Association (NSPMA). “Maintenance and operations doesn’t have a strong voice in how the states will divvying up the stimulus money.”
Until any money arrives, managers will keep doing what they have had to do for decades: stretch tightening budgets to address the mounting backlog of maintenance projects in existing schools, many of which are decades, sometimes many decades, old.
States Decide if School Districts Receive Stimulus Funds