Fort Osage Superintendent Larry Ewing has sat through three presentations regarding the Federal Stimulus Package’s effect on education, and he is still left with more questions than answers.

Fort Osage Superintendent Larry Ewing has sat through three presentations regarding the Federal Stimulus Package’s effect on education, and he is still left with more questions than answers.
“It is our understanding that every state will handle the distribution of funds quite differently,” he said. “We just don’t have many answers right now.”
The $800 billion federal economic stimulus package, designed to boost the United States’ failing economy, includes more than $1.3 billion for Missouri schools. But area superintendents are still left to wonder how much of that money will come to public school districts and when it will be dispersed.
Some could be used to balance other parts of Missouri’s budget or could be used to ensure that the Foundation Formula, the main funding mechanism for public school districts, is fully funded.
Other money is earmarked for special education and Title I programs while still more could be directed toward specific construction projects requested by school districts. State and local officials are waiting to see what restrictions will be placed on the funds by the U.S. Department of Education.
Grain Valley Superintendent Chris Small said the amount of money the school district could receive remains unknown. He said if it comes in the form of construction dollars, the district would put it toward the second middle school in Grain Valley, scheduled to break ground in the next two months.
“We will take anything we can get,” he said. “But there remains a lot of questions without any solid answers.”
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon created a Web site, www.transform.mo.gov, which allows public entities and the general public to submit ideas as to how the funds should be distributed.
Ewing said Fort Osage has submitted several ideas for renovation projects including the updating of science classrooms and laboratories, particularly at the high school.
“If we receive some of the monies being distributed that we can use for renovations, it would certainly lessen the hardship on our taxpayers,” he said. “So of course, if the money is distributed to benefit public schools, we would hope to have the opportunity to benefit from that as well.”
For the Independence School District, the federal dollars could mean millions of dollars of renovations to not only the five schools in western Independence obtained from the Kansas City School District last year, but also to other buildings and facilities districtwide. The district has identified more than $80 million of potential projects ranging from repairs and improved parking lots to new roofs and heating and air conditioning systems.
Superintendent Jim Hinson said he has received projections from state associations and employee unions as to how much the district could see in new funds. These projections show Independence receiving as much as $3.7 million. However, this could be used only for the special education and Title I programs. No employees could be hired with this money, restricting it to mainly technology and supplies.
As for construction dollars, the district, as other public entities, has submitted a proposal to the state, but if and when the district could receive any money is still up in the air.
“We have not heard anything official,” he said. “We would love to see money in regards to construction projects. It would be a major boost for us to see some money for remodeling and renovation projects, not only for the schools, but we would be putting people to work in our own community. We just don’t have the answers yet.”
But even after the wish lists and ideas have been submitted, the general consensus among area superintendents is that they are not planning for any  additional funds until more answers are given – and when that will be is the biggest question of all.
“People have been saying the money is coming since before the bill was passed,” said Blue Springs Superintendent Paul Kinder. “But we are not counting anything until we see something in writing or we have the money in our hands.”