Economic Stimulus Bill Dramatically Boosts Spending for Special Education and Low Income Students

The economic stimulus bill, which President Obama signed yesterday, dramatically ramps up spending for a broad array of social programs for needy and disabled Americans. The bill raises federal spending for schools that serve largely low-income students from $14 billion to more than $27 billion. Federal support for special education, an area where local school districts have long complained of inadequate federal support, will grow by more than $12 billion. Funding for Pell Grants, which provide college aid for low-income students, will increase by around $15 billion, allowing the maximum grant to increase by $500 to $5,350.

The bill also creates new preschool slots for low-income students, makes billions in federal dollars available for school renovations, and bail out states facing deep cuts in education spending because of budget deficits.

New Jersey’s share of the stimulus funds includes $361.5 million for special education funding, raising the federal contribution to nearly 40%, and  $253.3 million for poor school districts in the state.

All of the new spending is temporary, with most of it slated to end after two years.

Sources: February 16, 2009 Edition of The New York Times, the February 16, 2009 Edition of The Washington Post, and the February 18, 2009 Edition of The Star-Ledger.