According to the Democrats’ analysis, the edujobs bill will save 160,000 jobs including 16,500 jobs in California. That is slightly more jobs than the number of teachers that the California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated have been laid off. So, in theory, after the jobs bill there should be more teachers than there were last year. Similar reports from other states (like Washington state – 500 teachers laid off, but 3,000 jobs will be saved) suggest that the actual layoffs were less than the estimates of the number of jobs the jobs bill would create. But, don’t count on it, especially in 2010-11 school year. Local interest coverage of the jobs bill have focused individual teachers who have lost their jobs in the last year, and are waiting on the sidelines for their school districts to reinstate them. But at least in California, those teachers should not hold their breath waiting, even with unions exerting significant pressure to rehire teachers. There are a few of reasons for that. The biggest factors are the state budget situation, the timing of the new funding coming, and the fiscal condition of school districts.
California has not passed a budget for the fiscal year that started July 1. Education funding and tax revenues are at the heart of the budget debate. The new federal education funding will ease the pressures of that debate someone, and will likely result in the state providing less state funding to education than they would have absent the new federal funds. So at least in California, the likely recipient of much of the edujobs investment will be the state’s General Fund. This is not to say that this was not a worthwhile investment. And, this additional funding will only make the state’s burden of balancing the budget slightly easier since various budget proposals that have been put forward were already counting on even more federal funding to come to the state than this bill will provide. Of course the state will meet the maintenance of effort requirements that are in he edujobs bill, but that does not mean than the new funds will not reduce the state funding provided.
In addition, the state Legislature will have to appropriate this funding before it is distributed to school districts. The Legislature is not likely to make that appropriation separate from an overall state budget, so this edujobs funding will get rolled into the entire budget debate. Because the federal funds have timing requirements in it (my understanding is a 45 day clock to get funds to districts), legislative leaders may try to use this deadline to motivate movement on the overall budget. The Governor has actually threatened to continue the budget impasse until he leaves office if he does not get some of the concessions that he wants.
The second reason that the new funding may not have must of an impact on jobs is that the money is arriving a little too late for this school year. Most districts have already made their tentative budget plans for the year, and have made the staffing decisions that go along with that. Of course, California school districts are use to living with budget uncertainty given that late state budgets are the rule instead of the exception. And they know that the budget forecasts do not look any brighter for years to come, and could be even worse depending on the economy and the results of the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Third, school districts have a lot of holes to fill prior to starting to rehire teachers. There are a record number of districts (174) that are on the state’s fiscal watch list because they are at risk of going bankrupt including many of the large districts like LA Unified, Oakland, and Sacramento. Also, many large districts in the state have reduced the length of their school year. So, districts would be well advised to use the funding to plug holes in meeting their current obligations, restoring the cut days or holding on to those funds and carry them into the 2011-12 school year (While there is huge pressure to spend the $ now, districts can carry the funds over for one year).
To be clear, I am not saying that this funding was not needed. It was especially in budget ravaged states like California. But, the likelihood of this funding resulting in districts restoring large numbers of jobs is not that likely.
Update: It seems like Senate Pro Temp Darrel Steinberg is the first to publically admit that the new federal education funding can be used to help the state fill its budget hole by providing less state funding to education. Read details (here)