Philadelphia Area School Districts Eligible for $460 million in Federal Stimulus Money, But Does TESD Qualify?

OK, I admit I am confused about the education stimulus money that is available in our area. Philadelphia and 20 other local school districts are eligible for $460 million in federal stimulus money and there is a April 1 application deadline for the money.  This money is available in low-interest bonds and can be used for funding construction and renovation projects.  The funds are restricted to projects that increase energy efficiency, or create or renovate space or reduce class size in the lower grades.  Projects that foster technology, science and engineering are also eligible for the federal money. School districts would pay interest rates from zero to 1.5%, plus some costs (and the school districts would need to repay the principal). 

If I understand the PA Department of Education guidelines for obtaining the bonds, only districts with the highest tax and poverty rates and those with rapid population growth over the last 5 years can apply and the money must be spent within 3 years of being received.  The Philadelphia School District has over 300 buildings that are an average age of 62 years old so the only difficulty for these folks is prioritizing the list of renovation work. Philadelphia School District could use up to $147 million in bonds; the other local school districts would share $316 million.   If the eligibility requirement is as I understand, than I would have thought that Tredyffrin Easttown School District would not fit the criteria.  If TESD does not fit the criteria requirement, than how is that the Great Valley School District (which would seem to be similar to TESD in its ‘poverty level rate’ or rather lack of) is planning on using these bonds to finance several small projects for projects that total less than $5 million, including renovation of the district administration building and the installation of solar panels at the middle school. 

This is a unique opportunity to save a lot of money on renovation and construction projects but does that mean that TESD is eligible for this federal stimulus money or not?  I need some of the school district experts to help me —  Ray, Mike, Sarah . . . do you or anyone else know the answer here?  If so, please help me understand.

Tredyffrin Easttown School District . . . Continuing Discussion on 2010-11 Budget

The posting, Understanding the Tredyffrin Easttown School District Budget Process has generated interesting comments.  Please take the time to read these thoughtful remarks from our local residents.  In my review of the Tredyffrin Easttown School District (TESD) budget, I admit that I very surprised to learn that 75% of our school district budget is allocation to teacher and administration salaries. 

In my attempt to understand the salary range of teachers, I found an interesting online site which details the salaries (2007-08) of the 195,000 Pennsylvania public school teachers and administrators. This link will now only allow you to review the range of TESD teacher and administration salaries but also allows a comparison of TESD salaries other school districts.  It is particularly interesting to review the salaries of Radnor, Upper Merion and Great Valley school districts as compared to Tredyffrin-Easttown.  There has been much discussion about the teacher unions, teacher salaries and benefits, pension plans, etc. I would like further research on the pension retirement programs.