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2009 March 23 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • $44 Billion in Stimulus Money To Start Flowing  Into State Coffers

About $44 billion in educated-related stimulus funding will begin flowing to states over the next few weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The first round of funding is aimed at averting thousands of layoffs in schools and colleges while also driving crucial education improvements, reforms and results for students.

“These funds will be distributed as quickly as possible to save and create jobs and improve education, and will be invested as transparently as possible so we can measure the impact in the classroom,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement. “Strict reporting requirements will ensure that Americans know exactly how their money is being spent and how their schools are being improved.”

By the end of March, governors will be able to apply for 67 percent of the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) and discretionary SFSF, totaling $32.5 billion. These funds will be released within two weeks after applications are received, according to DOE guidelines.

In addition, about $700 million more will be available for various programs, including vocational rehabilitation state grants and aid for construction, Duncan said. Another $17.3 billion for Pell Grants and work-study funds is available for disbursement for the next academic year beginning July 1.

An additional $35 billion in education-related stimulus funding will be distributed between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Stimulus money is intended to improve student achievement, Duncan said. To receive the first round of state stabilization funds, states must pledge to adopt key reforms, including the establishment of better data systems to track students over time. To receive the second round of funding, they must provide evidence and plans for progress on the benchmarks.

Duncan admonished states to use the stimulus funding in a manner that will avoid long-term costs. 

“These are one-time funds, and state and school officials need to find the best way to stretch every dollar and spend the money in ways that protect and support children without carrying continuing costs,” Duncan said.

Additional details, including a category-by-category list of all ARRA funds appropriated to the Department of Education, as well as requirements and plans for their distribution are posted at www.ed.gov/recovery

  • Omaha College Kicked Out Of State’s College Association

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The community college district that serves Omaha and its suburbs has been kicked out of the state’s community college association for not paying its full dues for the year.

The vote by the Nebraska Community College Association was 10-2 against the Metropolitan Community College District.

Earlier, the chairman of the Metro board said he feared the district would lose $23 million in state aid this year if the district were expelled and a community colleges bill in the Legislature were to become law.

Metro has been squabbling with the state’s five other community college districts over funding for decades.

Metro says it has 35 percent of the state’s enrollment but gets only 27 percent of the state funding.

  • Iowa College Prof Convicted Of Sexual Abuse Charge

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines Area Community College professor has been found guilty of sexual abuse.

Jeffrey Rumelhart was found guilty by a Polk County jury on one count of second-degree sexual abuse and four counts of third-degree sexual abuse. He faces up to 35 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Rumelhart was accused of abusing the girl from 2002 to 2008.

Rumelhart, an electronics professor, was arrested in April 2008 and has not taught since.

Des Moines Area Community College President Rob Denson says the school will follow its personnel procedures and take whatever action is necessary.

Rumelhart is being held without bond in the Polk County jail. Sentencing is set for April 7.

  • Wyoming College Commission OKs 10 New Programs

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Community College Commission has approved 10 new programs at three community colleges around the state.

The commission signed off on the programs at a recent meeting in Casper.

Students at Laramie County Community College now will have the option to earn associate degrees and certificates in fire science technology. Northwest College’s new programs include criminal justice, advanced welding technology and film, radio, and television production. 

Western Wyoming Community College students can now get certificates in emergency management and creative writing.

  • La. College Offering Tuition-Free Training  With Federal Grant 

MONROE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Delta Community College this summer will offer tuition-free training for manufacturing jobs.

The program is funded primarily through a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and will train 250 students over the next three years for a wide range of entry-level and advanced manufacturing jobs.

Regional industries will provide input into curriculum design and content. Louisiana Tech will also help with high-tech training, officials said. LDCC Chancellor Luke Robins calls the initiative a collaboration to meet the community’s needs.

“When we leverage our respective strengths, we can create workforce training programs critical to the economic development of our region,” Robins said.

In addition to skills training, the program will provide training that addresses work ethic, verbal and nonverbal communication, attendance, time management and personal finances.

“What we’ll be doing is working with various partners in the program, evaluating the curriculums, and looking at skill sets required by industries more so than job titles,” said Bob Hammack, Delta’s workforce development coordinator.

The program also will collaborate with high schools to find students who would benefit from the training. There also are plans to develop an apprenticeship program in advanced manufacturing.

“It will end up not being a Delta program, but more of a regional program put together by people to meet the industrial needs for the region,” Hammack said. “It will give us the infrastructure, equipment and so forth to respond to those needs.”

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