Monday, December 28, 2009

Where is the Porkulous Being Spent in New Hampshire?

Read it and weep. Look how your tax dollars are being spent. Who will pay it off? Your children, your grandchildren and/or your great grand children?

$340,920 for research to answer the question "How does changing seasonality affect the capacity of Arctic streams networks to influence nutrient fluxes from the landscape to the ocean?"

$772,709 to examine the "use of genome enabled tools to understand symbiosis?"

The state received $39 million in regular educational funding, $31 million in stimulus Title I funds and $51 million for special ed and 3 to 5 year old program, $3.2 million in educational technology, etc., etc.

To top it off Newport and the SAU want to increase the amount Croydon residents pay by 29%. Does the greed of educrats ever end?

The following piece appears in the Union Leader.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Quote of the Day - "A child educated only at school is an uneducated child." - George Santayana

The follow piece appeared on the Union Leader.

Stimulus proves to be a windfall for schools

Senior Political Reporter
Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009

CONCORD – First of two parts

Ten months after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was enacted, where is the stimulus money going?

In New Hampshire, much has gone to projects you might have expected -- road paving and repair, for example, and extra unemployment benefits.

Some is going to college students and local school districts in big aid programs -- recipients you might think worthy but might not equate with emergency spending to spur the economy out of a deep recession.

And significant millions of your tax dollars are going for things you might not have expected to be part of a stimulus plan at all.

Did you think, for instance, that $340,920 in stimulus funds would go to research aimed at answering the question "How does changing seasonality affect the capacity of Arctic streams networks to influence nutrient fluxes from the landscape to the ocean?"

Or that $772,709 would examine the "use of genome enabled tools to understand symbiosis?"

Or that $693 in economic stimulus money would buy a hot-food counter at the Lamprey River Elementary School in Raymond?

The federal government says it paid out more than $414 million in stimulus money to public and private entities in New Hampshire as of Dec. 1 and that an announced total of $1.4 billion will be available to those entities by the time the program ends in mid-July 2011.

According to the state Office of Economic Stimulus, the stimulus program has provided nearly $140 million for roads and other transportation-related items and more than $120 million for energy- and environment-related projects, with the biggest chunk of the stimulus-fund pie -- more than $160 million -- going to education.

Public schools

In addition to $39 million in regular funding, according to the state Department of Education, scores of New Hampshire school districts have received a combined total of nearly $31 million in stimulus money through the federal Title I program. According to the federal Department of Education, the additional funding "provides financial assistance to (local education agencies) and schools with high numbers of poor children."

More than $51 million in stimulus money is targeted to supplement about the same amount of existing federal funding for special education, according to the state Department of Education. The federal government says that money is to ensure that "children with disabilities, including children ages 3 through 5, have access to a free appropriate public education to meet each child's unique needs and prepare him or her for further education, employment and independent living."

Additionally, the federal Department of Education has sent New Hampshire $3.2 million in education technology grants, $1.9 million for vocational rehabilitation, $323,000 in independent-living grants, and $190,000 to assist school districts in helping homeless children get to and from school and perform well.

Kathleen Murphy, director of instruction for the state education department, said these millions are worthy expenditures of taxpayer money.

She said all Title I and IDEA grants require applications that meet "the specific criteria they are targeted to help, and, when they get it, the school districts must focus it on students who are low-income."

Manchester, for instance, received $5.9 million in Title I and $4.4 million in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding as of Dec. 1, according to the state stimulus office.

The city's superintendent of schools, Thomas Brennan, said the money allowed "some personnel hires," including 20 kindergarten teachers, seven high school and middle school assistant principals, and seven elementary school principals, "all working with specialized students under IDEA."

Brennan said the district hired three transition counselors at the high school level, also under IDEA, to support "specifically identified students."

He said the district also used stimulus money for "additional training for teachers in the development of individual education plans."

Murphy said she understands that the stimulus program is controversial, but said, "It is unprecedented for us to do the kind of work for the kids in New Hampshire that we've been able to do. It is terrific."

Broad definition

But these are not the types of programs that the most Americans expected stimulus funds to be used for, said David Williams, vice president of the national watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

"When people think of stimulus, they think of jobs being created quickly," Williams said. "Fifty people out there pouring cement -- that's what people originally think of a stimulus bill trying to do."

Little known to the average taxpayer is that, according to the federal government, the stimulus has a dual purpose: "To stimulate the economy in the short term and invest in education and other essential public services to ensure the long-term economic health of our nation."

The broad heading "invest in education" has resulted in some intriguing uses.

According to public state documents:

-- $68,590 was awarded to the Henniker Youth Theatre group, more than twice the amount it usually raises privately.

"We had a great time with it," said director Thomas Dunn, who said the program was able to double its summer minimum-wage counseling staff from four to eight 18- to 24-year-old actors/singers and expand into Hillsborough. He said the stimulus money headed off a planned hike in fees for participants.

"It was just wonderful," he said, looking forward to applying for more stimulus money next year.

-- In Manchester, besides the millions used for Title I and IDEA, there was $35,008 for a pot washer and $9,375 for a freezer at the Beech Street School.

-- In Rumney, $1,949 was awarded for a hot-food table and shelf at the Russell Elementary School.

-- Peterborough collected $539 in stimulus funds for a heater and $949 for a freezer at the South Meadow School.

Murphy said such funding, under the federal school lunch equipment assistance program, gives districts "a chance to replace equipment that is sometimes ancient and can be costly."

And in Manchester, superintendent Brennan said the Beech Street School's walk-in freezer, for instance, was necessary to replace an older piece of equipment.


Tomorrow: Much of federal stimulus money targeted for education has gone to public elementary, middle and secondary schools, but large grants also are going to the state's universities -- public and private -- and to their students.

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