That money can only be used for certain things, and lawmakers said since the money disappears in two years, it shouldn’t be used for personnel.
"If you were to use the money for a staff person, that staff person goes away in two years or you have to find the money to continue it," Brooks said.
That falls into the usual philosophy — with which I wholeheartedly agree — that it’s bad practice to use non-recurring funds for recurring expenses, as it just delays the problem — or creates a bigger problem in the future.
But in this case, the stimulus is needed because tax revenues for the schools are down, due to the economic recession. In Tennessee, schools are funded in large part by sales taxes, which are the first to fall in a recession. What if the stimulus funds were used not to create new jobs (for which we would have to find a supporting funding source two years from now), but to avoid job losses among existing staff?
That, it seems, would fit with the intent of the stimulus — to keep people employed, so that they continue buying groceries, appliances, cars, and houses, which in turn strengthens the economy.
Most of the federal stimulus funds are designated for economically-disadvantaged students, or those in special education. Thus, it seems to me that the most appropriate use would be to use those funds to continue programs like extended contracts, where teachers are paid a small stipend to do extra things like before- or after-school tutoring (of particular benefit to special ed or economically disadvantaged students).
This year, the State has already advised that 100% of extended contracted funding will be cut. If the stimulus funds would allow us to continue these programs through two years until the state and local economies begin to recover, would that not be an acceptable use?