Some N.C. Charter Schools left out of CARES Act funding

Freshmen at Raleigh Charter School in Raleigh conduct science experiments in May of 2017. File photo

RALEIGH — At an emergency meeting of the North Carolina State Board of Education, a breakdown of federal funds the state will receive revealed a number of the state’s public charter schools would receive no money.

In response to the economic and health-related emergencies arising from COVID-19, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Included in the CARES Act is $30.75 billion designated for grants which will aid K-12 and higher education systems in dealing with various impacts and financial ramifications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Board chairman Alan Duncan said that the financial needs of school districts likely will be greater than the $389 million in CARES Act dollars that the state is poised to receive.

The draft presented to the board had large districts with multi-million dollar allotments. The draft document showed Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools getting between $32.9 and $36.1 million. Wake County Public Schools could receive between $24 to $26.4 million.

Meanwhile, a number of charter schools had a zero next to their name.

“Some charter schools and maybe a lab school may be excluded because they did not receive Title I funds during the time period being used for the calculation,” said Alexis Schauss, the chief business officer of the School Business Division.

Schauss also said that “legislation allocates the funds based on the proportion of Title 1 funding the public school unit received in the most recent year.” The most recent year, in this case, means the 2018-19 school year.

It was noted by Schauss that charter schools sometimes don’t apply for Title 1 funds because the funding would be too small compared to the effort in obtaining it, or that a school doesn’t have the ability or staff to properly manage and use such funds.

According to the documentation provided during the meeting, the Department of Public Instruction must allocate no less than 90% of its total K-12 Emergency Relief Fund award as sub-awards to eligible units.

Of the remaining 10% of the award, DPI may reserve up to half of 1% for administration. The remainder may be used for emergency needs to be determined by DPI for issues related to the virus response.

The funds can be used for any activity “authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 (ESEA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, or Title VII, Subtitle B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.”

Items the funds can be spent on include COVID-19 preparedness, buying cleaning supplies, buying technology or acquiring resources to make sure all children are served, especially low-income and at-risk students.

The federal CARES Act money is use-it-or-lose-it funding. DPI has one year from receipt of the funds to make all sub-awards, otherwise, any remaining money will be reallocated to other states.

Based on the draft allotment document, 23 charter schools will receive zero allotments: Community School of Davidson, Endeavor Charter, Eno River Academy, Envision Science Academy, Franklin Academy, Lake Norman Charter, Lake Pine Prep, Lakeside Charter, Magellan Charter, Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, Moore Montessori Community School, Peak Charter Academy, Pine Springs Preparatory Academy, Quest Academy, Raleigh Charter High School, Sterling Montessori, The Expedition School, The Woods Charter, Waters Edge Village School, West Lake Preparatory Academy, Willow Oak Montessori and Youngsville Academy.

About A.P. Dillon 1071 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_