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Federal teacher jobs bill set to channel about $200 million to city

President Barack Obama is expected to sign a $10 billion federal teacher jobs bill into law this evening, opening the way for New York City to receive about $200 million for teacher salaries.

The “edujobs” legislation is meant to stave off teacher layoffs. But in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg avoided layoffs by revoking planned teacher pay raises, leaving the use of the $200 million unclear. The law requires that districts use the funds to pay for teachers salaries and benefits — not any administrative costs.

One possibility is that pay raises could go back on the negotiating table. The money could also be used to prevent the elimination of 2,000 teaching positions that the city is still planning to lose this year through attrition and not replace.

Overall, New York State will receive an estimated $622 million. Districts will have until September 2012 to use the funds.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon after the bill passed the House, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that states could see the influx of money in a matter of weeks. “We feel a huge sense of urgency here,” Duncan said.

The bill passed after months of Congressional wrangling. Last month, it faced the threat of a presidential veto after lawmakers wanted to pay for the measure by cutting funds originally meant for Obama administration education reform efforts, including Race to the Top. The final version is paid for by other budget trades, including a $12 billion cut to the federal food stamp program.

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