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NMRSD didn’t expect stimulus money and didn’t receive any

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TOWNSEND — The North Middlesex Regional School District will receive none of the $168 million infusion of federal stimulus money under Gov. Deval Patrick’s recently announced plan for 166 school districts, but then again it wasn’t expecting any, Superintendent Maureen Marshall said this week.

At least not right now.

Under the governor’s plan, 166 school districts that are in danger of slipping below state-set minimum education spending levels will get the nod. The amounts vary from $14.4 million for Worcester to $30 for Adams.

“We knew we weren’t going to receive any federal money because the district meets foundation budget requirements,” Marshall said. “But we are expecting to receive stimulus money for special education and Title I.”

Title I Part A provides federal money for supplemental educational opportunities for disadvantaged children who are most at risk of failing to meet the state’s challenging content and performance standards. It is the cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act.

According to Web sites such as http://edlabor.house.gov, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earmarks $209 million for Title I-A in Massachusetts. Another $280 million is earmarked to supplement Massachusetts expenditure for The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B.

Neither is part of the recently announced $168 million.

In a letter to his constituents in Ayer, whose officials have registered concern at not being included in this first round of education stimulus money, Sen. James Eldridge wrote, “It is important to remember that these numbers are not final and calculated through a different formula than the one the Legislature uses.”

Marshall disagreed saying, “No, it’s carved in stone.”

It is true, however, that the Chapter 70 state aid formulas used by the administration and the Legislature differ.

The administration has modified H.1 (House One, the governor’s budget) categories for 2010. The former additional assistance, lottery revenue and hold-harmless lottery aid categories have been combined into a new category called unrestricted general government aid. Two new categories have been added, reflecting the recommended meals tax and rooms tax increases.

According to www.mass.gov, Chapter 70 education aid was an unprecedented $3.9 billion for 2009, representing a 6 percent increase over 2008. The total is expected to be the same for 2010.

While the education aid increase fulfilled a campaign promise, Gov. Patrick’s 2009 budget lowered aid levels to many struggling municipalities.