Recently disclosed details of a $26 billion federal jobs bill have local school administrators breathing a little easier.

The federal jobs bill, signed into law Aug. 10, would give $10 billion to education, of which Maine is expected to get $39 million. The districts will have to spend the money on hiring, rehiring or preventing the layoffs of a wide range of school positions, from principals to bus drivers.

But to the relief of local administrators, who previously worried that they would be forced to hire new staff on short notice using funding that wouldn’t be available next year, the districts will have until Sept. 30, 2012, to spend the federal money.

An Aug. 20 press release from the governor’s office indicated that the state would dispense the $39 million through the Essential Programs and Services funding formula, which calculates the amounts districts will get using enrollment figures and local valuations.

The amount of federal money coming to Maine as a result of the jobs bill is not far removed from the $38 million cut from the Department of Education in a November 2009 state budget curtailment. Of this amount, roughly $212,000 came out of the budget of MSAD 3, a district that comprises 11 towns in western Waldo County.

“This year, they’re doing basically the reverse,” said MSAD 3 Superintendent Heather Perry, “They’re putting $39 million back into the pot and distributing it through EPS.”

Perry said the federal money would be treated like the funding the district received last year through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With any federal grant funding, Perry said, the money is kept separate from the district’s budget.

According to an informational letter from Maine Department of Education Commissioner Angela Faherty to the local school districts, the jobs bill money may be used “only for compensation and benefits and other expenses, such as support services, necessary to retain existing employees, to recall or rehire former employees, and to hire new employees, in order to provide early childhood, elementary, or secondary educational and related services.”

A list of jobs eligible for the funds included administrators, academic coaches, in-service teacher trainers, classroom aides, counselors, librarians, secretaries, social workers, interpreters, therapists, information technology personnel, nurses, athletic coaches, security officers, custodians, maintenance workers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers, among others.

“We expect the application will be reviewed and approved quickly and Maine will be awarded the funds within two weeks of approval, as soon as early- to mid-September,” Faherty wrote in the letter.

The Department of Education has scheduled a conference call on Aug. 25 to update local superintendents on “guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.”

Bruce Mailloux, superintendent of Regional School Unit 20, said he was relieved to hear that the money could be used over a period of two years, rather than being limited to the current school year.

“We’re under way. We had our opening day today,” he said. “So it would have been hard to go back and make adjustments.”

Mailloux said a provision that allows the district to prevent potential layoffs might be valuable when looking at the 2011-12 school year. Without the influx of federal money of the past two years, the Department of Education would be facing a $59 million shortfall.

“It’s certainly better than it looked like it would be at the onset,” said Mailloux.