California has become the first state in the nation to be approved for a share of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund dollars within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Friday.
The action means California school districts and universities are immediately eligible for 3.1 billion dollars in Recovery Act funding meant to prevent the need for laying off teachers, professors, and other school employees, and to protect education funding and reform efforts in this difficult economic time, said the governor.
In releasing the funding, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the money will "save jobs and lay the groundwork for a generation of education reform."
Nearly 30,000 teachers in California received layoff notices last month.
More states are expected to receive money from the fund in the coming days.
"We must do everything we can to help protect our schools from the effects of our economy - that's why these Recovery Act dollars are so important," said Schwarzenegger. "I have always said our kids should have the first run at our treasury, and that's true of the Recovery Act dollars too."
The governor said that with the funding, the state will be the first in the nation to protect teachers' jobs with Recovery Act dollars.
"I'll continue to fight for every available dollar to Recovery Act funding and am committed to sending those dollars quickly out into our schools, into our communities, and into our economy."
The funds now flow through the California Department of Education (CDE) and are available immediately to be administered by Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. School districts will apply for their funds through an application process managed by CDE.
With his Recovery Task Force, Schwarzenegger last week signed the application for the funding, opening the door for approximately 4.9 billion dollars to flow into California and quickly to schools where it will preserve education programs and protect jobs, as well as an additional 1.1 billion dollars to protect other state programs.
Now, less than two weeks after the federal government made the funding guidelines available, school districts can tap into the first installment of that funding: 3.1 billion dollars, of which approximately 2.6 billion is estimated to go toward elementary, middle and high schools, and 537 million toward the California State University and University of California systems.
"These important funds come with significant flexibility that will allow our schools and universities to meet their most critical needs while continuing to improve student performance," said state Secretary of Education Glen Thomas. "The quick action of the Recovery Task Force means our educators can now begin taking action to protect jobs and programs."