Schools, city await stimulus

GLENDALE — The $790-billion federal stimulus package scheduled for a House of Representatives vote today will bring a wealth of job opportunities and educational funding to the city, even though it is smaller than the $819-billion plan originally passed by the House, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said Thursday.

The Glendale Unified School District will receive chunks of the $25.1 million that it was set to receive under the prior House plan, but the $9.9 million previously allocated for district construction will instead be funneled through the state for modernization projects and may be scaled back, Schiff said.

Details of the bill were still not clear, but the district will receive close to the remaining $15.2 million in stimulus money that it would have received in the original House plan, he said.

That money would be limited for special education and supplemental programs in schools with high numbers of underprivileged students, he said.

City officials will also benefit from the plan, as the city will have access to a variety of job-creating opportunities, although the allocations for different programs have shifted from what they were in the plan originally passed in the House, Schiff said.

“There are funds for lots of other infrastructure programs around the country that Glendale will be eligible for that will hopefully bring good construction jobs to the city of Glendale,” he said.

The Senate will vote on the bill after the House vote is completed, with lawmakers hoping for a finalized plan over the weekend, Schiff said.

State lawmakers may also be close on finalizing a budget deal, with an Assembly vote scheduled for Saturday.

Leading legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have been meeting to finalize a plan to close California’s deficit, which is expected to grow to more than $40 billion in 17 months, said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance.

Education accounts for about 40% of the state’s budget and is expected to take the biggest cut of any other public service.

Schwarzenegger’s most recent budget proposal included plans for a net midyear cut of about $2 billion to education, which would have cost Glendale Unified about $8 million, a loss it would have to absorb more than halfway into the school year, according to the district.

The governor has proposed flexibility measures that would help educators cover the deficit, allowing them to use money currently restricted for specific purposes, like textbook purchases or art supplies, to cover budget holes left by the reductions, Palmer said.

Asked about reports that an $8-billion cut to education might be included in the new plan being made by Schwarzenegger and leading lawmakers, Palmer said those assumptions probably had not taken other solutions into account.

The governor’s 2009-10 budget proposal, for example, included a proposal to cut $6.6 billion from general education funds this year, but would make up for most of the gap by reallocating money from transportation budgets and other programs to make up for more than $4 billion, he said.

More specifics on the state and federal plans are likely to become more clear over the weekend as lawmakers meet in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, officials said.


 ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.

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