Education NewsTracker

Stimulus Seepage

State auditors questioned the use of $345,000 in federal grant money by Hamblen County Schools, finding that the money for special education was being used for nurses, supplies and other general purposes.

The grant money included $239,000 from the federal stimulus, which was supposed to cover special education but was being used for equipment and staff time not devoted to special ed. Schools officials transferred money from the general fund to cover the costs that auditors questioned, the audit says.

As the stimulus winds down this year, school boards around the country are trying to figure out what will happen without that temporary boost in funding. The stimulus pumped $12.2 billion in special education funds into the schools, under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act program.

But in some places, the cash infusion seems to have been wasted.

In Houston, Texas, a school district used $18 million to pay the salaries of more than 200 workers it admitted it did not need. Meanwhile, a dispute has flared in New York state over special education stimulus funding, with a county suing the state Department of Education. The county maintains that the state pressured it to inflate the number of jobs created with the money — the county said there were none, but under state pressure the figure grew to 89, the Dutchess County executive told the Mid-Hudson News Network.

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