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Federal Funds May Boost LBUSD Budget

With the Long Beach Unified School District facing $70 million in cuts due to the state budget crisis, the federal government may step in with more than $62 million as part of a national economic stimulus package.

“This type of help for schools, which is typically a state function, is unprecedented,” Kim Stallings, chief business and financial officer, told the Board of Education during a recent public meeting.  “We’re very hopeful about this.  The federal revenue is the most exciting thing we’ve seen in a long time.”

The state budget deficit is estimated to grow to $42 billion over the next 17 months.  Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting $7.5 billion from education this year and next year.

Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser warned that the federal funding would not cure the state’s ongoing budget problems.  The  state continues to spend more money than it takes in.

“This would be a windfall for the school district, but what everyone must remember is that this is a short-term two-year solution,” Steinhauser said.

The federal stimulus package is being considered by Congress and is supported by President Obama.  A House of Representatives version would give LBUSD nearly $63 million over this year and next for special education districtwide and various federal Title I programs for schools with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students.

Democratic leaders have promised to have legislation ready for Obama to sign in mid-February.