Colorado and its residents are due to receive about $5.5 billion in stimulus money and benefits over three years, according to information released by Gov. Bill Ritter’s office Tuesday. Education-related programs, both K-12 and higher education, account for about $1.1 billion of that.

StockARRALogo92909The governor’s office reported that about $1.2 billion of the total actually has been spent. It’s more difficult to determine how much of the education stimulus cash actually has been spent, but a rough EdNews calculation estimates that number to be at least $160 million.

“The Recovery Act has thrown a lifeline to Colorado when we most needed it, helping to keep thousands of teachers in the classroom at our public colleges and universities and preserving critical public safety services,” Ritter said in a statement.

While many in the education community like to talk about the stimulus as a savior, the stimulus funds are a small percentage of total education spending in the state. Three years of K-12 and higher education budgets total more than $26 billion, so $1.1 billion in education stimulus funds is about 4 percent of that.

Still, stimulus funds have prevented drastic cuts in funding for state colleges and universities by backfilling state cuts and have provided support for some school districts. The governor’s statement claimed that more than 2,600 FTE positions in state colleges have been saved by the stimulus.

The state’s budget crisis is so severe, however, that K-12 support likely will be trimmed almost 2 percent in the current, 2009-10 budget year and by twice as much or more in 2010-11, regardless of the stimulus and Amendment 23.

Source: Governor's office
Source: Governor's office

Here’s a rundown on stimulus aid for key Colorado education programs, based on information from the governor’s office:

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund: Out of $760 million, $452 million will be allocated to higher ed through 2011, and about $170 million goes to K-12 in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Another $10 million is being used for programs intended to enhance the state Race to the Top bid.

Title IA: $111 million will be allocated to school districts based on their numbers of Title I students, with another $33.8 million for low-performing schools.

IDEA (special education): Colorado districts are expected to receive $161 million.

Other education grants already disbursed or in the pipeline are for technology ($7 million), homeless children (about $925,000), school lunch aid (about $1 million) and construction ($1 million).

The administration also estimates that the stimulus has provided an additional $131 million in Pell Grants to eligible Colorado students and $2.7 million in work-study funds.

Colorado also is vying for a number of competitive future stimulus grants, including an estimated $200 to $300 million in Race to the Top funds plus innovation grants for local school districts and non-profits, a teacher incentive fund and grants for data systems.

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