Lawmakers may return to Albany, take up education jobs issue

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The state Legislature may be returning to Albany as early as next week to take up a batch of federal aid and determine how it should be distributed.

Officials for the Senate Democrats said this afternoon that Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, is considering bringing lawmakers back to Albany in order to distribute an estimated $607 million in education aid that cleared its final legislative hurdle in Congress today. Sampson is also discussing the issue with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan.

The money can only be used to restore the nearly 13,000 teaching positions lost to cuts over the last year.

States have the option of distributing the money two ways: either through the traditional state-aid formula or using the Title I formula.

Title I formula benefits school districts with a high percentage of low-income students.

Sen. Charles Schumer’s office released a county-by-county break down of how much would be distributed.

The Legislature will likely have to determine which funding formula to use, but officials in Albany were still trying to figure out to proceed.

“We’re still trying to wade through the parameters of it,” said Sisa Moyo, a spokeswoman for the Assembly Democrats.

State law prohibits school districts from spending outside of their enacted budgets unless granted approval by the Legislature, said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the state Department of Education.

It’s also possible the money could be deemed a federal grant and not require lawmakers to act, said Jessica Bassett, a spokeswoman for the governor.

“It’s not clear when the Legislature has to come back to take action,” she said.

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