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Stimulus Cash Starting to Ring NY Teachers’ Bells

March 11, 2009

Albany, NY – The first of approximately $2.5 billion dollars in federal recovery funds for education will start to arrive in Albany within a few weeks. The prospect is putting smiles on the faces of New York's teachers, many of whom had faced layoffs. Education officials around the state got the heads-up this week from the Education Department in Washington: the stimulus bucks will start showing up in 30 to 45 days, meaning that teachers will keep jobs they might have lost, class sizes won't balloon, and special programs wont be scrapped.

All of this pleases Dick Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers.

"Providing good class sizes and learning opportunities is the first thing we're going to see out of these dollars, and that's a good thing. I believe it is clearly going to forestall any layoffs that would have been created by cuts at the governor's level, at the state level.”

He says it'll be up to the state Education Department to propose spending plans so that the governor can approve projects that maybe aren't "shovel-ready" but might be called "book-ready."

Iannuzzi, whose union represents some 600-thousand teachers and school staff, welcomes the emphasis on education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"There's certainly a great feeling in knowing there's an appreciation of the value of an education. We're seeing it at the federal level, and as the dollars filter down into the state we hope to be able to demonstrate that it's a good thing for the economy all around."

Some critics contend education spending in the stimulus package is wasteful. Lawmakers who opposed the amount of spending in the package were able to cut the stimulus spending on education down from about 160 billion to 100 billion dollars.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY