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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Thanks, but no thanks: Palm Beach schools might not take stimulus funds

Palm Beach school officials really would like to have $68 million more for construction projects.

The problem is, the only way they can access the federal stimulus money is to sell some bonds, and those bonds would create debt the district can ill afford, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

This dilemma comes as part of a larger wrinkle in Palm Beach's construction plans, the Palm Beach Post reports. For the first time in more than a decade, the district is proposing a five-year plan that includes no new schools, thanks in large part to the area's poor real estate market and the pending expiration of the district's half-cent sales tax.

The proposed budget has many on the board upset, particularly that they don't look likely to replace some aging buildings that many say need to go.

It seems that on first blush, the stimulus funds have offered a lifeline to schools that face big shortfalls. Some teacher jobs are being saved, some construction projects are getting the green light.

But then we hear about the side effects. Taking the money requires spending above the amount districts get. The money goes away after two years, leaving a "cliff" for officials to grapple with if the economy doesn't rebound.

What do you think about the stimulus funding for schools? Is it a saving grace? Or a boondoggle? Spout off here. 

Jeff Solochek, Times staff writer

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:27am]

    

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