Morenci and the county’s other 11 public school districts are in line to share in $5.4 million in “emergency education funding” through the federal Recovery Act, but it’s not as simple as taking the money and putting it to good use, warns Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith.
He intends to evaluate the offer carefully to avoid creating services that will suddenly lack funding when the Recovery Act expires.
All the county funds are for Title I low-income programs and IDEA special education needs.
Morenci is offered $93,512 in Title I-A funding for programs in low-income communities, and $192,000 in IDEA funding for special education and related services to students with disabilities.
Both grants represent increases to existing funding in those two programs.
“The Recovery Act funds come with very specific details of how they are to be used,” Griffith said.
As an example, he pointed out that a bus is needed for transporting special needs children, but money for a bus purchase would have to come out of the general fund.
“The Recovery Act will help in the designated areas of Title I and IDEA, yet it does not give us the ability to invest in other areas that are needed for operation or general staffing,” Griffith said.
“Although the funds will be helpful, we must be careful in making the necessary financial adjustments so that in a year or two when the Recovery Act is done, we are not stuck with an increased deficit position.”
The funding won’t help the district cope with the deficit budget situation related to declining enrollment, Griffith said. The board of education must continue with the staff cuts announced last month.
On the other hand, the funding should allow the district to improve student achievement for at-risk and special needs students.