Monroe County area school districts could receive more than $17 million in the next two years to be used for building improvements and increasing educational programs.
That money was approved in the version of the stimulus bill the House passed last week.
This week, the Senate is debating a nearly $900 billion economic stimulus proposal that differs in some ways from the House version. If the Senate approves its bill, the two will need to be reconciled and a final bill will be sent to President Barack Obama.
If approved, some cash will flow to Monroe County and is expected to be used for educational programs and for remodeling projects.
U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Dearborn, announced that schools in his district would receive more than $48 million. Of that, almost $17.4 million would be earmarked for Monroe County regional districts.
Schools submitted building improvement ideas and cost estimates to state officials to help determine award amounts. Ken Laub, assistant superintendent of business at Monroe Public Schools, said he submitted $60 million worth of repairs for the district's 14 or so buildings.
As it stands now, the district would receive more than $5.2 million with almost $2 million targeted for construction projects. Although the stimulus cash would not solve all the infrastructure needs at Monroe, Mr. Laub said it absolutely would help.
"That's $1.9 million we didn't have before," he said of the construction money. "And if it helps more people get work, then that's a bonus."The money probably would be used for such improvements as a boiler at Custer Elementary School and swimming pool and metal roof upgrades at the high school.
Much of the proposed dollars earmarked for area schools would be used for Title 1 educational programs, but not salaries, officials said. Title 1 is a program intended to improve academic achievement.Dollars also are to be used to fund programs supporting the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
If the bill becomes law, the dollars would be available to districts over a two-year period beginning in the 2009-10 school year. Districts would receive dollars intended for school improvements most likely in a lump sum to be used immediately.At Airport Community Schools, about $600,000 of its $1.8 million would be used for building repairs. Brenda Pyle, business manager, said the construction funds would probably be used to replace the asbestos tiles in all the school buildings.
She said the floor replacement project has been discussed for some time and it satisfied the building upgrade criteria."Absolutely, it is a need," Ms. Pyle said.Michelle Strick, business manager for Mason Consolidated and Whiteford Agricultural schools, said everything happened so fast there wasn't an opportunity to be specific with the recommendations.
Although the dollars for improvements won't satisfy all the districts' needs, any amount of money will help, she said.
Rep. Dingell supported the stimulus package in the House, stating that it will help children who are struggling and to improve buildings. The bill also includes money to make schools more "green" and update technology."This money will help Michigan during this period of recovery," Rep. Dingell said. "The entire country stands to benefit as well."