Sometimes in the news business, the facts can be stranger than fiction – especially when there are government bureaucrats involved.
Such is the case with the School Committee budget reported last week in the Press. We learned that there is an ongoing “shell game” occurring in regards to local education funding that comes from state and federal monies.
Here’s what happened:
Jamestown schools were due to receive $89,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is a federal grant. That’s great, you say? There’s more.
The state of Rhode Island responded by telling Jamestown that since the town will get $89,000 from the federal government, the state will cut the same amount of money from its education assistance to the town.
Instead of having an extra $89,000 to expand our local educational programs, it was a wash. The right hand giveth $89,000, and the left hand taketh $89,000.
But the tale gets even better. The state then tells the town that the federal money was not meant to supplant state money, but that the federal dollars are supposed to enrich our local educational programs.
The state says the town must determine how to use the federal money without replacing any of the money that the state is taking away from the town because it received the federal money.
Yes, our state government is keeping the catch-22 rule alive and well. Somewhere, Joseph Heller is smiling.