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BOE discusses federal funds for PSS

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PUBLIC School System federal programs manager Tim Thornburgh delivered the PSS federal programs report during a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday morning.

Thornburgh reported that in summary, PSS has spent a little over $26 million in federal funds, obligated another $24 million, and has $22,000 left to spend in FY 2020.

As for the FY 2019 grants, PSS has approximately $721,000 left to spend, he added.

He said PSS received almost $17 million in consolidated grants, and that most of the PSS programs have already spent their share of the federal money.

“Our largest program, which received $6.1 million, has a remaining balance of $1.7 million — the schools are spending this very quickly. We are expecting this to be at $0 by June 30. Then, beginning July 1, we will have a new series of consolidated grants,” he added.

As for the Project Restart Fund, he said it has a remaining balance of $2.2 million, and added that “a big chunk of that is allocated to our private schools.”

There is also $579,000 for repairs of windows, doors, air-conditioning, and for schools that were on double session, he added.

Regarding the school meals program, Thornburgh said there is “ample money available to do the Grab-N-Go until the end of this school year and all summer, leading right up to [the new] school…year.”

He said the special education program also has “healthy balances” and will receive “a new almost $5 million grant…around July 1.”

Likewise, the Head Start program has “healthy balances,” Thornburgh reported.

Following a question from BOE Vice Chair Herman Atalig regarding what to do with potential unspent School-wide Improvement Plan or SWP funds at the end of the school year, Thornburgh said that he is confident that all schools will spend all of their SWP money this year.

“They are spending a good bit on online [and] learning packages. They also have the opportunity to spend any remaining balance to get ready for the next school year. One of the things that we know we are going to need is more connectivity. If we are going to be doing online [learning] next year, we are going to need connectivity at home, so that all students are on the same playing field. So there is certainly that need, and probably some devices as well,” he added.

Asked about the large remaining balance for wellness funding, Thornburgh said schools have been using the wellness funds for sports equipment, for paying coaches who work after school with students, and also for uniforms.

He expects them to “recapture any wellness balances, and then use that to pay some of the salaries of the 138 locally funded personnel that we are covering right now. These are teachers. These are principals and online teachers.”

PSS receives about $40 million from the federal government each year.

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