Valley federal education funds at stake

Rick Perry File Photo

While students at Doctor Cash Elementary School in San Benito learn about the pitfalls on Mars, the district's superintendent is educating the governor on the pitfalls from a lack of federal funds.

San Benito CISD Superintendent Antonio Limon wrote a letter urging Gov. Rick Perry to apply for Texas' share of nearly $10 billion dollars earmarked by Congress for the Education Jobs Fund.

"What layoffs we would have to make, what cuts we would have to make because of the budget shortfalls projected for the next biennium," Limon explained.

The money is intended to help school districts cope with the economic recession and avoid layoffs.

An estimated breakdown of the impact from the Education Jobs Bill looks like this for the Rio Grande Valley:

- San Benito CISD would get a little more than $4 million - Brownsville ISD more than $19.5 million- Harlingen CISD more than $5 million- PSJA ISD just under $10 million

In all, the Valley could see a $100 million windfall.

"It's to prepare us for the future... so when the money doesn't come in from the state we'll be able to have money... so we won't lose any jobs," Limon said.

Gov. Perry has said that to comply with a provision in the bill that put stiffer requirements on Texas would be a violation of the state constitution.

The bill requires Texas to make a thee-year commitment with regards to funding public education.

All other states require a one-year commitment.

A spokesperson for the governor said they'll look for ways around the requirement.

It could set the stage for a potential legal fight over the money.

And while there may be no life on Mars, Valley districts hope a compromise can breathe life into the bill.