Jobs Act could benefit education

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Carroll County could pay teacher salaries and renovate schools through the federal proposal.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE  —  Carroll County schools may avoid teacher layoffs and get funds to modernize facilities if the White House’s proposed “American Jobs Act” passes Congress.
The White House invited Carroll school officials to participate in a Sept. 12 teleconference about the components of the jobs act, and Schools Superintendent Greg Smith told school board members the next day that he found the hour-long conference call informative.
As proposed, the American Jobs Act would put $447 billion towards trying to jolt the stagnating economy into a higher level of production.
“I would just like to highlight what it might mean to the Carroll County Public Schools System,” Smith said. “There are several different components that may apply to the Carroll County Public School System — the first would be the cutting of the payroll tax by 50 percent for the first $5 million in payments next year.”
This falls under the proposed tax cuts that are supposed to “help America’s small businesses hire and grow,” according to jobs plan documents.
Along the same lines, the White House also proposes a complete payroll tax holiday for any new workers or any increased wages that employers may add.
If, for example, the Carroll schools gave employees a 3 percent raise, there would be a tax holiday on those funds, the superintendent noted.
In an attempt to put people back to work, the jobs plan offers a “Returning Heroes” tax credit to employers who would hire returning military service veterans, Smith said. This tax credit would range from $5,600 to $9,600 to encourage such hiring.
A component of the jobs plan would also seek to preserve 280,000 public school teachers’ positions across the nation.
“In the coming year, Virginia will receive $742,300,000 which would help stave off any potential layoff that we might see due to budget deficits,” Smith told the school board. “That, as you all know, is a major concern that I have expressed many, many times...”
Smith has long feared the school system falling off “the budgetary cliff” after the earlier round of stimulus funds dried up and state funding shrinking.
“This would be a real boon for us that would certainly help us through the next budget cycle,” Smith said.
The jobs plan would work toward the modernization of 35,000 schools, the White House documents state, in order to support “new science labs, Internet-ready classrooms, and renovations at schools across the country.”
Virginia would receive more than $425 million, and those funds could be used in a lot of different ways, Smith said. Using the money on updating mechanical systems, like those improvements needed at the Carroll High School, is allowed.
“It is a way in which this school system can be made whole and the renovation and the construction projects could certainly be helped,” Smith said.