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What Obama's American Jobs Act Means for Ohio Schools

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 11:12 PM

At a Columbus high school today, President Barack Obama touted his jobs bill--the American Jobs Act--as “one of the most common sense ideas out there.” The bill includes $25 billion for school renovation, $30 billion for teacher compensation and $5 billion for community colleges renovation.

(The $447 billion bill also includes a payroll tax cut, funding for road, bridge and other infrastructure improvements, and a host of other provisions not directly related to education. You can read the full text here.)

It's far from likely that the bill will pass as-is: Republicans in Congress have said they oppose anything that seems like more stimulus, which would include the education spending. They have said they may be willing to pass parts of the bill--like payroll tax cuts--separately.

Education Week K-12 politics reporter Alyson Klein said the education funding part of the bill seems "more like a re-election campaign promise than a serious legislative proposal."

Still, Obama advisors say he will press Congress to pass the whole bill. So if you see Satan shopping for earmuffs this Christmas, here's what Ohio schools could gain:

  • $985,500,000 to renovate schools.This money could not be used for new construction. The money would be distributed to states based on how many poor children they have, with about forty percent going directly to the 100 school districts with the highest proportions of poor children. That means that $985.5 million includes:
      • $129.6 million for the Cleveland school district,
      • $111.6 million for the Columbus school district,
      • $61.1 million for the Cincinnati school district, and
      • $54.3 million for the Toledo school district.
  • $148.3 million to renovate community colleges.
  • $1.1 billion to pay teachers and first responders. The part of the money dedicated to teachers could only be spent on compensation--not on equipment or other administrators--and could not replace state funding.  The money would be allocated to states based on both total population and population of school-age children. All funds would need to be assigned to a specific purpose by September 2013, which means this cash infusion could prevent some teacher layoffs for the 2012-2013 school year.



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