The needler in the haystack.

Monday, May 9, 2011

State to District: Use $1M in Stimulus funds, or lose 'em

 
With nearly $1 million in Federal Stimulus (ARRA) monies showing as being unspent by the Plainfield school district, the state is warning it that if the monies aren't spent down by August they will be lost.

This is the end of the much-vaunted (and later reviled) ARRA, or Stimulus, program undertaken by President Obama soon after taking office.

The idea was to pump monies into local governments and schools districts to help stave off job cuts and stimulate the flagging economy in the depths of the 'Great Recession'.

Monies allocated to the Plainfield school district and remaining unspent as of April 2011 are as follows (see list by district here) --


PROGRAM ALLOCATION
UNSPENT
%
IDEA Basic ARRA
$1,948,710
$271,972
14%
IDEA Preschool ARRA
70,038
61,870
12%
T1 A ARRA
1,652,096
955,588
42%
T1 SIA ARRA
105,673
0
0%
TOTAL
$3,776,517
$976,648


The State Department of Education is at pains to point out to local school districts that the ARRA funding does not contain the usual waiver allowing for a drawdown after an 'expiration' date providing programming is already in place and drawing on the funds.  As an article today on NJ Spotlight points out, with ARRA, if its not spent down by August, tough luck (see article here)!

Nor is the school district the only Plainfield recipient of ARRA funds. The city set up a special, separate web subsite to track its Stimulus/ARRA applications and funding (see here). Unfortunately, it has never been updated, so you will not be able to find out a) how successful the City was with its requests, and b) whether or not all monies received have been spent.

One item that comes to mind immediately is the $345,000 requested for a CCTV system to allow video monitoring of the downtown business district and high-crime areas.


City asked for $345,000 for camera system in 2009.
What ever happened?

Did the City ever get the grant? If so, has it been spent? Or is it in danger of being lost in August, along with the rest of unspent ARRA monies?

Another item was the job training grant. Originally awarded to PAS (Plainfield Action Services), there was hanky-panky with the grant while Marc Dashield was City Administrator (see here) and the grant was finally made to The Incubator (see here).

I have been told that among the questions FBI investigators have been asking in recent Plainfield interviews are plenty concerning the grant to the Incubator and the circumstances surrounding it.

I am sure the District, under the leadership of Acting Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles and BOE President Renata Hernandez will be updating the public with the status of the District's ARRA monies.

Would be nice if Mayor (and Acting City Administrator) Sharon Robinson-Briggs would do the same for the City side.




-- Dan Damon [follow]

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