WASHINGTON (CNN) – As education stimulus funds continue flowing, reaching 22 of the 50 states so far, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Friday described the situation as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for schools.
"You have leadership from the top, you have congressional support, you have great ideas and, lastly, and not insignificantly, we have some real resources," Duncan said at a news conference.
But the flow hasn't been fast enough for some local school districts that need to know soon what kind of cuts they will need to make in the next school year.
The Education Department has allocated $18 billion from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Massachusetts and Washington were the latest states to be notified, on Wednesday, that they were to receive the funds.
The money is supposed to be used to save jobs and enact reforms in education.
The governor's office in each state determines how the money will be spent within school districts.
A week ago, the North Carolina's governor's office received word from the U.S. Department of Education that a billion dollars in stimulus money was headed its way.
Dempsey Benton, director of the Office of Economic Recovery and Investment in North Carolina said, "We are pleased with the responsiveness and rapid turnaround we have experienced in working with the staff of the U.S. Department of Education in applying for these crucial recovery funds."
But on the same day, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina notified 304 of its teachers that they were being recommended for dismissal as the district tries to reduce its budget for the 2009-2010 school year.
As in school districts across the United States, administrators working on the budget plans for the next school year haven't yet gotten a complete picture of their funding.
In Charlotte - where education dollars come from federal, state and local governments - officials don't know how much of the federal money will be allocated for their district. And, although the funds could save the jobs of some who received their notices Friday, they also may be needed just to avoid further staff cuts.
Maurice Ambler, head of human resources for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, described the situation: "From now until the opening of schools in August, we are in a period of great flux."