3:15pm | The House of Representatives today passed a $26 billion aid package that is aimed at saving the jobs of teachers and police. President Obama immediately signed the bill into law, according to the Associated Press.
The bill passed the House by a 247-161 vote, but Democrats and Republicans were split. Democrats saw an opportunity to save jobs as students prepare for the coming school year, while Republicans called the bill wasteful and catering to teachers unions.
Locally, it is difficult to estimate the impact that the aid will have on schools and teachers.
“We don’t have any idea of how that funding will break down locally yet,” said Michael Day, president of the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB). “But it will definitely prevent layoffs next year and should be able to bring back a lot of our folks that were laid off this year.”
Chris Eftychiou, a spokesperson for the Long Beach Unified School District, shared a similar sentiment.
“We’re still determining the amount of funding that our schools will receive, but we anticipate that it will be significant,” he said. “This is great news for schools. The jobs bill brings a much needed infusion of funding that will help us to maintain services for students. We hope to use this funding to preserve jobs and possibly restore some positions that have been eliminated.”
Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-Carson, Long Beach) voted in favor of the bill and released a statement claiming that 546 education jobs have been saved in her district because of the new law. That estimate is based on this document, which reports that Richardson’s district will receive $47.6 million to save 546 jobs.
“In a district where 23.8 percent of the population (approximately 160,000 youth between the ages of 5 and 18) are children, the recent announcement of pink slips was a frightening thought to the many children, parents, teachers and administrators who have seen education take a backseat in the recovery,” Rep. Richardson said in a statement.
Day sounded cautiously optimistic as the funding, coupled with the decision to enact five furlough days in the next school year, could save many teacher jobs in Long Beach.
“With more cuts coming from the state, we are anticipating more layoffs next year,” said Day. “So without knowing exactly how the state will break down that money to the district, it’s hard to get an idea precisely of how many jobs that will mean. But obviously it’s a great thing and it’s going to be a lot better than it would have otherwise.”