EARLIER: Schools to get huge boost

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Obama’s stimulus package contributes nearly $2 million for specific programs

By Lisa King

School officials remain cautiously optimistic about an influx of cash that Shelby County schools should receive as a piece of the pie served up by the Obama Administration.

Shelby County schools would receive nearly $2 million from the $305 million in federal stimulus funds that will be distributed to public schools throughout Kentucky during the next two years.

The stimulus bill, entitled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was signed into law Tuesday by the president.

Duanne Puckett, community relations coordinator, said that though other school systems are talking about how much funding they have received from the stimulus fund, Shelby County school officials have not yet had any word on how much they may be getting.

“We cannot confirm anything at this time since we have not been formally notified,” she said. “We remain optimistic.”

Brad Hughes, spokesperson for the Kentucky School Board Association, said that according to  a report  released by the Congressional Research Service on Friday, Shelby County is slated to receive $1,914,000.

“Of that, $1.3 million is to go for special education, and $547,000 will go toward Title 1 projects,” he said.

Hughes added that there is what he called “another pot of money” that will be allocated for education that could be used for technical purposes and for construction projects.

“The thing about this second fund is that there is a fair amount of confusion about how that money is to be spent,” he said. “And we don't know how much it will be yet.”

Shelby County School Superintendent James Neihof could not be reached for comment.

Shelby County has been struggling with state-mandated budget cuts of around 2 percent because of revenue shortfalls.

Neihof had said he was hoping to save this money in support areas and capital spending.

But there have been suggestions that the cuts could be even deeper, which would affect classroom staffing.

The school  board also voted last week to review its plans for the new educational center being built west of Shelbyville. Declining enrollment patterns and decreasing tax revenue are key reasons for that delay.