As the mother of two kids who attend a public school in Broward, I was saddened to hear this morning that their music teacher, who retired last year, was not being replaced. So much for having a well-rounded education!

But, on a positive note, there’s news out of Broward County Public Schools that more than half the teachers who were laid off last year are being told they now have a job.

There have been media reports that their return to the classroom is the result of an expected influx of federal money coming to South Florida. But, school district spokeswoman Nadine Drew said they are not hiring teachers based on what may be, but what is in the budget.

“It’s not because of potential federal dollars, it’s real money that the district has, and opportunities are available because we have had retirements, teachers who have elected not to return for other reasons – there are a number of opportunities made available,” she said.

So far, 344 of the 555 laid-off teachers will return, Drew said.

With less than two weeks before school starts, it’s understandable some have elected not to accept the offer to return.

If the additional federal dollars come through, all of those laid off, plus non-instructional staff, could be called back to the classroom when school resumes in a couple of weeks, Drew said.

“We need bus drivers to get the kids to school, and we need cafeteria workers to prepare meals,” she said. “There is a lot of support that goes on, and some of those individuals are expected to be rehired.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are back in D.C. for a one-day special session to vote on a funding package that would provide, among other things, some $10 billion in education funding to states, $554 million of which would come to Florida.

Congressman Ron Klein (D-Fla.), whose mother was a public school teacher, said the funding would help bridge the gap, but it’s not the end all.

“It’s a steep climb, it’s taking time,” he said.

If approved, the added funding would help to pay the salaries of 9,000 Florida teachers, Klein said. And, he added, the law requires the money to be used on hiring and retention this year.

“This isn’t to put into a bank account,” he said.

If passed by the House, it still would need the president’s signature.

A vote is expected later this afternoon, so stay tuned.

-Susan R. Miller