Area schools will receive more than $1.4 million in stimulus funds over the next two years.

That via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which will distribute $240 million to Iowa schools the same way state funds are traditionally allocated.

The funding

Locally, Decorah Schools will receive $116,012 this year and $591,607 during fiscal year 2010; South Winn stands to gain $52,146 in June, and $130,074 next year; Turkey Valley is expecting $39,324 this year and $262,246 next year; and North Winneshiek will be awarded $26,496 this year and $192,000 in 2010.

How it works

Elaine Watkins-Miller of the Iowa Department of Education said each district will receive one payment in June of 2009, with the next year's stimulus money being spread out and paid on a monthly basis, beginning in Sept. of 2009, and lasting until June 2010.

"And it's important to remember this is just one source of federal funds," added Watkins-Miller.

Districts will also receive money through IDEA (special education) and Title 1 funding.

Not extra

But, according South Winneshiek Superintendent Dick Janson, it's not "extra" money.

"What the state is doing is using federal dollars to substitute for cuts in state aid," said Janson, who recently was briefed at an Iowa Association of School Board school law conference on the matter.

Janson added he is concerned the substitute funding will ultimately create more work for district business managers.

"It has the effect of increased accountability for how that money is spent. Besides our regular audit, we have to submit quarterly reports on these dollars," said Jansen.

"In terms of what we can spend it on, we can spend it for the same purposes, it's just that we have to earmark every penny and report to federal government how we spend every penny of that. It's going to create more work for all of the business managers, who will have to have to slot each penny to a specific fund account and budget number," said Janson.

"We have no idea what the extent of the increased workload for school business managers is going to be, but it's going to have a huge impact."

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