Updates: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

March 31, 2009 Update:

Memo to the Field, from Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education - P-16, on "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)"

Office of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education
Office of Higher Education

District Superintendents of Schools
Superintendents of Schools
Administrators of Charter Schools
Chief Executive Officers of Institutions of Higher Education
Directors of Public Libraries and Public Library Systems
From: Johanna Duncan-Poitier
Date: March 31, 2009
Subject: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

This is a brief update on information related to State funding for education and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Following enactment of the state budget we will provide our customary budget summary, including how ARRA funds may be used, to assist you with finalizing your district budget.  Also, providing the budget is enacted, we will hold a Webcast on Monday, April 6 at 11:00 a.m. to share information with you to use for planning purposes.  Additional information on the Webcast can be found on the next page.

A number of school administrators have requested specific information about the amount of ARRA funds districts should expect to receive and how the funds may be used.  At this time, we are awaiting United States Education Department (USED) guidance regarding the formula-based federal funds, the recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and the application process for ARRA funds. We are sensitive to the challenges you face developing timely budgets and are therefore working closely with Executive and Legislative staff to provide you with accurate information.  Preliminary state aid runs, assuming enactment of the 2009-10 budget, currently before the State Legislature, including Title I and IDEA federal funds have been published at: http://stateaid.nysed.gov/index.htm  under Latest News. The amounts published on the runs represent one year of the federal allocations.

Use of ARRA Resources

ARRA funds are to be used to help school districts and public institutions of higher education preserve jobs and avert layoffs and to leverage fundamental change to improve student achievement.  The funds are available for two years.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan has indicated that additional federal guidance could come out as soon as tomorrow. We anticipate this guidance will clear up many questions about how the education portion of the ARRA State Fiscal Stabilization Fund will be disbursed. We also anticipate further guidance on Teacher Quality Partnership and Teacher Incentive funds.  As we learn more about the specific requirements we will post the information on our dedicated ARRA web site at: http://usny.nysed.gov/arra/.  Please check this site often for updates. 

Mechanisms for Accountability

It is important to know that the ARRA requires an unprecedented level of accountability for the use of all ARRA resources. We expect the final details about the recordkeeping and reporting requirements to be in the USED guidance that will be issued shortly. At this time, we do know that the federal government will be requiring quarterly ARRA reports from districts, specifically on: the use of funds; the distribution of funds; the number of jobs created or saved; and tax increases averted. Other information may be mandated as well.

All ARRA funds must be segregated and tracked separately.  In addition, by December 1 of this year school districts must file with the State Education Department a school-by-school listing of per pupil educational expenditures from state and local sources for the 2008-09 school year.  Guidance on this will be forthcoming.

Webcast, Questions and Additional Information

We are planning to hold a Webcast on Monday, April 6 at 11:00 a.m. (providing the state budget is passed this week) to provide you with information to use for planning purposes.  The Webcast will be accessible on the State Education Department’s Web site – www.nysed.gov – beginning at 11 a.m. on Monday.  For those of you who will not be able to access the Webcast at that time, it will be archived for later viewing.

In preparation for the Webcast, we have established a dedicated e-mailbox to collect your ARRA questions - arra@mail.nysed.gov. Please send any questions you may have in advance of the Webcast to this mailbox. We will try to address as many questions as possible during our Webcast.  Your questions will also help us develop an ARRA Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQ) document.

I hope this information is helpful. We appreciate your commitment to the effective implementation of ARRA, as well as your patience, as we continue to work with federal and state partners to allocate the federal dollars for education to eligible recipients as quickly as possible to support critical projects and prevent job loss.  I will continue to provide periodic updates and share final allocations and guidance as soon as we know more.

Thank you.

cc: New York State Board of Regents
     Commissioner Richard P. Mills

Last Updated: March 15, 2010