Schools who got federal money to rehire teachers sitting on the cash

The next time a Congressman looks you in the eye and claims the tens of billions of your tax dollars need to go to school districts so they can rehire laid off teachers, you might want to grab your wallet and lock up the silver because the money isn't being used for any such thing:

As schools handed out pink slips to teachers this spring, states made a beeline to Washington to plead for money for their ravaged education budgets. But now that the federal government has come through with $10 billion, some of the nation's biggest school districts are balking at using their share of the money to hire teachers right away.

With the economic outlook weakening, they argue that big deficits are looming for the next academic year and that they need to preserve the funds to prevent future layoffs. Los Angeles, for example, is projecting a $280 million budget shortfall next year that could threaten more jobs.

"You've got this herculean task to deal with next year's deficit," said Lydia L. Ramos, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest after New York City.

"So if there's a way that you can lessen the blow for next year," she said, "we feel like it would be responsible to try to do that."

The district laid off 682 teachers and counselors and about 2,000 support workers this spring and was not sure it would be able to hire any of them back with the stimulus money. The district says it could be forced to cut 4,500 more people next year.

New York is also refusing to use the stim money to rehire teachers. School districts are using the cash to put off making the tough decisions that need to be made for one more year.

Why not? It's free money, right?

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky