Frederick County Public Schools have received a one-time federal grant of $1.6 million to compensate for budget shortcomings. The grant, set to expire in June of 2012, stipulates how the funding can be used. Ultimately the school board will have to decide on how to spend the additional funds, however they must be used to support educational programs, fill in budget gaps, create new positions or restore those that were cut. Linda Burgee, Frederick County Public School Superintendent spoke with The Gazette on how the Board plans to utilize the additional funds
“There is a broad use for this money,” said Burgee. “This is one-time money and we should be cautious about how we use it.”
The money comes from a federal $179 million Education Jobs Funding grant allocated to the whole state of Maryland, Burgee said. Of that money $7.8 million has been dedicated to Frederick County schools. However, only 20 percent of that is new money. The remaining 80 percent of the grant will go back to the state to help the state offset cuts in its unrestricted aid in fiscal 2012.
Counties around the state have also received their portion of the grant and are also mulling over ways to use the money, Burgee said. Some are planning to restore eliminated positions, others are creating new jobs, and some are bringing the money up in negotiations with their teachers’ unions, Burgee said. One typical scenario is investing half of the grant in restoring positions and keeping the other half to fill budget gaps, Burgee said.
For now it’s unclear when the board will make a decision on spending the money. The school board will discuss the issue on Monday, but if the board does not make a decision, it will be up to the next board — which will include three inexperienced board members — to distribute the funds.