JIM LEHRER: And finally tonight: federal stimulus money and a school system in upstate New York.
The reporter is John Tulenko of Learning Matters television, which produces education stories for the "NewsHour."
JOHN TULENKO: When Andrew Walker started high school in Rochester, New York, his learning disability made graduation seem unlikely.
ANDREW WALKER, Student: Sometimes, I would be having problems figuring things out. Like, sometimes, I'm reading something and I don't really get it. I would raise my hand. I didn't know what I was doing. I just wasn't learning.
JOHN TULENKO: But a program to train students with special needs for the work force, Rochester's Work Experience Program, put Andrew on track for on-time graduation. Now a senior, he's in small academic classes that meet every morning, and, every afternoon, he earns school credit building this house.
ANDREW WALKER: When it's finished, I could just come back and look at it, like, yes, I did that. That's pretty beautiful, give you a lot of pride.
JOHN TULENKO: But with the economy in recession, Rochester schools began cutting back on programs like this one.
Carleen Meers is the director.
CARLEEN MEERS: I went to look at certain budget lines, and they were markedly different than what I had expected.
JOHN TULENKO: How different?
CARLEEN MEERS: Well, some lines at zero. And that's a little scary when you're looking at a salary line. And I said, this can't be right. This can't be right, because we can't run the program.
JOHN TULENKO: Work Experience wasn't the only program in jeopardy.
Jean-Claude Brizard oversees Rochester's 60 schools and its budget of $700 million.
JEAN-CLAUDE BRIZARD, superintendent, Rochester City Schools: We had a $50 million budget shortfall coming into last fiscal year. At the time, we were predicting about 500 layoffs, which would create a big problem for us as a district. I know, as a city, we couldn't put 500 individuals in the streets.
JOHN TULENKO: Then, in February, the president signed the stimulus, sending $100 billion to the nation's schools to be spent over two years.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Because we know America can't outcompete the world tomorrow if our children are being outeducated today, we're making the largest investment in education in our nation's history.