Stimulus jobs just don't add up

Hey Illinois teachers, how is the stimulus working out for you? Bob Secter and Erika Slife of the Chicago Tribune give you a report from the field.

More than $4.7 million in federal stimulus aid so far has been funneled to schools in North Chicago, and state and federal officials say that money has saved the jobs of 473 teachers.

Problem is, the district employs only 290 teachers.


In the official report, Wilmette Public Schools District 39 was credited with 166 jobs saved by stimulus aid. Superintendent Raymond Lechner said the number should be zero.

At Dolton-Riverdale School District 148, stimulus funds were said to have saved the equivalent of 382 full-time teaching jobs -- 142 more than the district actually has.

A similar discrepancy was found in data for Kankakee School District 111, where the stimulus report logged the equivalent of 665 full-time jobs saved. "That's impossible," a top Kankakee school official said, adding that the entire payroll -- full and part time -- is 600 workers.


Last spring, Dolton-Riverdale received $3.6 million in stimulus money and reported to the state that the money saved 181 teaching jobs. A follow-up report this fall on another installment of $750,000 brought the total to 201. The official state report states that stimulus money saved 382 jobs.


And no, this wasn't even deliberate fraud, not even in Illinois. Rather

Problems with the Illinois stimulus data illustrate how difficult it is to benchmark the impact of so sprawling an initiative. Many districts were unclear about what they should report. And there also may have been confusion over how the data were collated once the figures arrived at the state level.

And so it goes throughout the country with all types of jobs allegedly saved by the stimulus; not just teachers, not just Illinois. The following summary by a school superintendent applies to all stimulus jobs; about the only continuity in them will be the next generational debt to pay for them.

Just a handful of the jobs were new, Rafferty said, and he warned that every position propped up by stimulus money would be in jeopardy when the program expires. "Unless there's a guarantee of continuation of (federal or state) money, the vast majority of these will be eliminated because there won't be local resources to fund them," he said.