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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
444 APS Jobs Credited To Stimulus
FOR THE RECORD:
This story about education jobs funded with the federal stimulus did not include the amount of money used to fund those jobs. Although the money and hours are calculated separately, Albuquerque Public Schools received $31.6 million in fiscal stabilization money in the quarter ending June 30 - the quarter for which the state reported that 444 jobs were saved or created in APS. According to the state agency that tracks stimulus spending, about 401 APS jobs were funded with stabilization money and another 43 jobs were funded using stimulus money earmarked for special education and low-income students.
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
When Lynn Tabor was hired back at Albuquerque Public Schools this summer after being laid off in the spring, she didn't know the federal stimulus had helped save her job.
"I had seen (Superintendent) Winston Brooks on TV and seen him say the money would save a lot of our positions. I didn't realize that mine was one of them," she said.
Tabor, who teaches science at John Adams Middle School, was laid off last spring because she had been hired on a short-term contract. All employees who are hired at APS after the start of the school year sign one-year contracts, and are always formally fired at the end of the school year. They then have priority in applying for permanent positions.
But with less money available this year, short-term employees were less likely to be rehired. Tabor applied for unemployment benefits. Two weeks later, APS rehired her.
"I'm very happy," she said. "I mean, it was very tough out there, looking for another teaching position. It is just tight all over."
The New Mexico Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, which tracks the state's stimulus spending, has released the estimated number of full-time education jobs funded in the second quarter, which ended in June. It says 444 jobs were created or saved in APS, including charter schools. The statewide number is 2,079 jobs.
Tabor's job is not technically funded by the stimulus, which APS has used to pay special education staff like speech therapists, audiologists and other specialists. But with the stimulus funding those jobs, more money was free to keep short-term staff like Tabor.
Districts must track stimulus money meticulously. Each quarter, they report the number of work hours funded by the stimulus, and the state publicly reports that number, divided by the hours a full-time employee works each quarter. That produces the number of stimulus-funded jobs.
However, the money will be gone next year, which may mean layoffs, said APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya. He said APS will try to fund the positions in other ways but may not be able to, depending on the budget.
"If we can't find other funding sources for them, we'll have to eliminate some positions," he said.
When stimulus awards were first announced in 2009, Brooks said he would not use the one-time money for recurring expenses. "I don't think we ought to be trying to balance the budget off of one-time money," he said.
With that in mind, APS and other districts have used the money for short-term programs to avoid scrambling when the stimulus dries up.
Lordsburg Superintendent Jim Barentine said his district used the money for a summer school program and intensive training for existing staff. He said his district has declining enrollment, so it didn't make sense to put the money into maintaining all the district's current staff. The state reported that 15 jobs in Lordsburg were funded with stimulus money.
Barentine teamed up with Animas Public Schools to offer a computer camp for kindergarten through eighth-grade students, something the district couldn't otherwise afford.
Other districts with triple-digit job savings, according to the state, are: Las Cruces Public Schools, 164 jobs; Santa Fe Public Schools, 127 jobs; Rio Rancho Public Schools, 119 jobs; and Los Lunas Schools, 108 jobs.