California schools are preparing for their share of nearly $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money to be released later this month for special education and low-income campuses.

The state informed educational agencies late Monday how it intends to disburse about $634 million in special education funds and $564 million in stimulus money for low-income Title 1 schools under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The May payments amount to half the stimulus money intended for special education and Title 1 schools, with the rest expected early in the fall.

In the next few weeks, special education agencies in Contra Costa County will receive more than $52.5 million, about $38.6 million will go to Alameda County agencies, and the San Mateo County Office of Education's special education programs will receive $16.8 million.

Schools can use the funds to bolster programs in many ways, including purchasing state-of-the-art technological devices for special education students and beefing up teacher training.

Stimulus money for low-income Title 1 schools could be used to develop supplemental learning materials such as online courses, increase collaboration among school employees and improve early childhood development programs.

The Oakland school district will receive about $6.6 million for its socioeconomically disadvantaged schools, $2.6 million will be doled out to West Contra Costa campuses, and the Mt. Diablo district will collect nearly $1.7 million for its Title 1 sites.

The special education and Title 1 grants do not include nearly $2.6 billion in less restricted state fiscal stabilization funds for school reforms and programs that could save jobs at elementary, middle and high schools.

Tuesday was the deadline to apply for that federal stimulus funding, with awards expected to be announced next week.

Theresa Harrington covers the Mt. Diablo school district. Reach her at 925-945-4764 or tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Online
Details of federal stimulus money awarded to area school districts and programs are online at www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/ar/.