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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The American Jobs act would bring more than a billion to Florida's schools

Woodrow Wilson Middle School is the oldest school in Hillsborough County, but with the school’s rich history and old Florida character, comes modern headaches.

"The sprinkler system isn't on a timer, or we don't have enough electrical outlets, or we have to drop more wires for computers," said Principal Colleen Faucett.

Faucett says the school was renovated 25 years ago. Now Wilson Middle is one of three schools at the top of the Hillsborough County School District's list for retro-fitting. Temple Terrace Elementary and Progress Village Middle School are on the same list.

"Hillsborough County has the second oldest inventory of schools in the State of Florida," said Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Elia says she spent yesterday on a mass conference call with the Vice President learning more about the American Jobs Act.

The President's plan would funnel $25 billion in federal funding directly to 100 high-need public school districts for jobs and capitol projects. Florida would receive $1.28 billion and Hillsborough County would get $122 million.

The Polk School District would receive $61.3 million. Pinellas County is slated for $54 million and Pasco County Schools would get $32.4 million.

"This is something as a plan that would have to now be approved by Congress. Until all of those benchmarks are met we certainly can't be in a position where we're spending anything," reminded Elia.

The President says the plan would create 16,600 jobs in our state. Some believe this stimulus may be an easier sell to House Republicans.

"If you're going to spend money, schools and the future of our country are dependent upon on educating the young. That resonates a lot better than some other things for sure," said USF Political Science Professor Susan MacManus.

Faucett says her school will wait and see but they won't have to wait for upgrades too long.

"Would it be a great thing for this school and any school? Absolutely, it would be,” she said.

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