Area Schools Eager To Receive Stimulus Money

Thursday, April 23rd 2009, 6:41 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The state is doling out almost $130 million of federal stimulus money.

Tulsa Public Schools will get one of the biggest checks with nearly $14 million, Broken Arrow Schools almost $2.5 million, Union Schools $2.2 million and almost $1.5 million for the Jenks School district.

With all that money available, some Tulsa principals and teachers are already waving their wish lists. But the cash comes with its own set of rules, responsibilities and restrictions.

The dollars have to be spent specifically for low-income schools and special-needs children, and every purchase has to be accounted for down to the penny and reported back to the state.

"I'm ready," said Tanya Davis, Celia Clinton Elementary School principal. "I have my wish list ready to go."

More than 90 percent of Davis' students at Celia Clinton are on free or reduced lunch. She's pretty sure the school will get a share of Tulsa Public Schools $14 million stimulus check.

"It will be a real relief to have that money on hand and be able to purchase those materials that we need," Davis said.

Davis hopes to use some stimulus money to bring more technology like Smart Boards to her school.

"They get real excited about it," she said. "They love working on these."

Union School leaders also think the high-tech boards would be a smart buy with stimulus money.

With the extra millions, many schools would like to add staff and teachers. But the reality is this is a one-time infusion of cash. Districts are hesitant to hire teachers now that they won't have the money to pay for later.

Many are looking to invest in the teachers they already have with more training and professional development.

Schools are also facing another kind of bottom line. While the feds are giving with one hand, the state could be taking away with the other.

A budget shortfall could be looming, which means the 2009-2010 school year could be a lean one.

For now, Davis is looking forward to having a little extra, for a change.

"Otherwise, my teachers are so dedicated to be here and want to be here for these students," she said. "And they spend a lot of money out of their own pocket trying to provide whatever it takes to make these children succeed."

This is only the first round of stimulus money. The second round is expected in September. Schools will have to apply and establish new goals for those dollars.