An injection of federal money is expected to ease financial pain across South Carolina schools, but details are sketchy and York County education officials don't think it will help until next year.
Congress passed a $26.1 billion jobs bill this week, which is slated to bring South Carolina nearly $282 million in Medicaid and education funding.
Of that, about $143.4 million is targeting schools.
State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex expects the money to save more than 2,000 teaching jobs.
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It's not clear how much school districts in York, Chester and Lancaster counties stand to get. Officials on Wednesday said they're still waiting for word.
"We have not received anything yet in regards to the amount allotted," Fort Mill schools Superintendent Chuck Epps said. "We have been led to believe from Dr. Rex's office that the money will not be available until the late fall or mid-year.
"The decision on how to use it will be based on the amount and the timing of when it is received."
In Rock Hill, there's a chance the money could help rehire teaching assistants who were laid off, Superintendent Lynn Moody said.
The school board over the summer approved spending cuts that included eliminating more than 30 teacher assistant jobs, some through layoffs.
But without knowing how much to expect or when, Moody said, it's tough to say for sure.
The state Department of Education estimates that public schools have lost $750 million in state money over the last two years. As a result, the department figures, school systems have cut 4,000 to 6,000 jobs.
Since teaching contracts and spending plans for this school year have been finalized, Rex said it's probably too late to save many jobs lost over the summer.
"Districts say they will use the additional federal dollars to avoid laying off teachers next year," Rex said. "For this year, they'll work to get by with the cuts they've already made.
"Several superintendents tell us that they may try to restore a few key positions immediately, but that's the exception rather than the rule."
The federal money approved this week is seen by education officials as an extension of stimulus money that will dry up after this school year.
"Most districts are planning on applying the funds toward the 2011-12 school budgets to assist with the shortfall created by the loss of the stimulus funds," Epps said. "At this point, it appears that the Fort Mill school district would be better served to apply it to the 2011-12 budget year."
"If that would bridge that" loss of stimulus money, she said, "that would be great."