Recovery Act Funds Accelerated to Save Jobs, Drive Reforms in Schools with Students in Greatest Need

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Delivering unprecedented resources to states and school districts, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that more than $11 billion is now available to further save jobs and drive reforms. The Department of Education has made available ahead of schedule the second half of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding—$11.37 billion—in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, IDEA, and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) grants and provided further guidance to states and schools on use of funds, flexibility, and the need for collaboration across programs.

“By accelerating the release of Recovery Act funds, the Obama administration is helping states and school districts stabilize their budgets, make decisions based on actual funds available, and move forward interventions to accelerate student achievement,” Duncan said. “We also are providing additional guidance to assist educators in taking full advantage of this historic opportunity to invest in what works for students.”

On April 1, 2009, the department awarded 50 percent of each state's Title I ARRA funds, IDEA Part B and C ARRA funds, and VR ARRA funds. The remaining 50 percent ($11.37 billion) was to be made available on Sept. 30. Today, these funds became available to all states nearly a month early.

The $5 billion in Title I funding is being made available early to districts for schools that serve high concentrations of students from families that live in poverty. These funds are available to support innovative strategies in Title I schools that improve education for at-risk students, close achievement gaps, and stimulate local economies. Likewise, the $6.1 billion in early IDEA funding provides states, school districts and early intervention service providers with additional support for innovative strategies to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youths with disabilities while stimulating the economy. The $270 million in early VR funding provides state VR agencies an opportunity to further improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

“I encourage states and schools to take advantage of these short-term stimulus funds to invest in strategies that will drive improvements for years to come,” Duncan said. “When planning how to use this historic funding, states and school districts should consider the flexibility available in the uses of the funds and how they can be coordinated with other federal, state, and local funds to advance best practices and improve student results.”

“With tremendous resources available and so much at stake, the work of turning around America's schools cannot be constrained by silos or working in isolation,” Duncan added. “Collaboration across programs between special education and general education, and of educators with families and communities is essential.”

To assist states and districts with effective use of this unprecedented increase in funding, the Department of Education is releasing additional guidance on using Recovery Act funds under Title I, IDEA Part B and Part C. This guidance suggests how Title I and IDEA funds can be used to increase educators' ability to improve student results, avoid the “funding cliff,” and foster continuous improvement.

Examples could include using Title I funds in ways that strengthen support for low-income, minority, and non-English speaking students, such as district-level strategies to target Title I schools; support for students to access college-level coursework; and resources to attract, reward, and retain highly effective teachers in hard-to-staff schools. Additionally, districts may use IDEA funds to support dual certification for teachers, implement schoolwide behavioral intervention programs and support secondary career transition services for students with disabilities.

In addition, the department released guidance on how improving instruction for at-risk students through Response to Intervention (RTI) can be supported with funds under Title I and IDEA as well as under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The new guidance on Title I, IDEA and RTI does not impose any requirements. It is designed to support and provide technical assistance to states and school districts as they decide how best to invest these resources. This guidance builds on earlier ARRA guidance released by the department in April 2009.

The following Web sites provide additional guidance: