State seeks to use federal teacher money to plug budget hole

Providence, R.I. – Rhode Island will apply for money from the newly created federal teacher jobs fund, but it may not mean new jobs for any out of work teachers. Governor Don Carcieri hopes to use the money to close a $38 million state budget deficit.

The $10 billion fund was meant to save thousands of teacher jobs across the country. If Rhode Island qualifies, its share would be roughly $33-million, but few teachers are likely to be re-hired because of it.

Carcieri plans to cut state funding for public schools by roughly the same amount, making it a wash for school districts says Carcieri spokesperson Amy Kempe.

"It won't be an increase or a decrease," Kempe says. "The cities and towns and school committees and school budgets will be exactly the same as they were under the FY2011 budget."

Kempe says the $33-million will be used to plug a hole in state Medicaid funding. School and teachers union officials expressed outrage that the money would not go to help school districts and the hundreds of out of work teachers that union officials estimate are living in Rhode Island.