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New spending flexibility to help school districts feed students, sanitize schools

Gov. Roy Cooper

A day after announcing schools will remain closed at least through May 15, Gov. Roy Cooper granted public schools the financial flexibility to respond to student needs that arise as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The governor announced the creation of a new $50 million flexible allotment for public schools to address COVID-19- related expenses. The N.C, Department of Public Instruction will administer the allotment funded with unused FY 2018-19 money, unspent FY 2019-20 Summer Reading Camp funds and funds from the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund.

Cooper said Tuesday that the new spending flexibility will provide money for districts to feed students while schools are closed.

But what else can schools do with the flexibility?

State Budget Director Charlie Perusse

State Budget Director Charlie Perusse offered this insight in a memo to State Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis and State Superintendent Mark Johnson:

“To assist LEAs and other public school units in supporting students during this unprecedented time, Governor Cooper has provided financial flexibility and relief to address unanticipated needs resulting from COVID-19, including remote learning, school nutrition, cleaning and sanitizing schools and buses, protective equipment, and child care.”

To pay for those items, Cooper directed the Office of State Budget and Management to re-purpose existing monies for schools and to realign them within the State Public School Fund.

Here are the ways school districts can use existing allocations to serve the immediate needs of students:

  • Textbooks and Digital Resources and School Technology allocations may be used for devices, online subscriptions and training for instructional personnel for digital and remote learning.
  • The Transportation, At-Risk Student Services, Disadvantaged Student Supplemental Funding, and Low-Wealth Supplemental Funding allotments may be used on expenses associated with school nutrition, school and community-based childcare, cleaning and sanitizing schools and buses, protective equipment and remote learning.
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