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Stimulus could boost Liberty schools

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POSTED: February 6, 2009 2:32 p.m.
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Dr. Judy Scherer

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As President Barack Obama’s stimulus package heads into its last day of Senate debate, the Liberty County School System stands to gain a little more than $8 million allotted for construction, special education programs and Title 1 programs for low-income students.
The funds will come as part of the president’s initiative to improve education.
“We will welcome any additional funds we will receive, especially in light of the cuts we are currently expecting from the state budget,” Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer said.
She said all three of these programs are relevant to the local school system’s needs.
With many construction projects in the works to cope with the imminent influx of residents, Liberty County, she said, needs as much money as it can get.
“With the additional students we are expecting with the troop build-up we will need additional classrooms which will be addressed through the construction of the middle school and perhaps other projects such as additions to some elementary schools, construction of a new elementary school or whatever we need depending on the growth,” Scherer said.
Liberty County also faces a challenge when it comes to helping students whose families are in need.
According to Scherer, approximately 60 percent of the student body qualifies for Title 1 programs.
“Title I money goes to schools whose population meets certain socio/economic status — all of our elementary and middle schools qualify and we currently use the money to improve student achievement by providing remediation during the school day, after-school remediation, and summer school,” Scherer said.
Special needs students also stand to gain from Obama’s proposition.
“Special education has never been fully funded so any increase there will go directly to services for exceptional needs students,” Scherer said.
While these numbers would help the system, everything is hypothetical for now.
 “Right now. we are unsure of what effect this will have on the district,” Assistant Superintendent for finances Jason Rogers said.
 “Federal funds come with specific guidelines and are generally earmarked for specific projects/purposes,” he said. “We remain in great anticipation of learning what the final amounts will be and will plan accordingly to ensure that we maximize every dollar we receive to the educational benefit of our students.”
Similarly, Dana Tofig, representative for Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox, said the state department of education is excited specific needs are being addressed, but they aren’t counting pennies just yet.
Tofig said Georgia’s Department of Education could see anywhere from $1 to $2 billion in funds from the package.
“We’re glad that there is talk about education,” Tofig said. “The superintendent has expressed concerns about borrowing against our future, but she’s glad education is being discussed.”
 

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