RSS to pay out $240,000 share of CARES Act funds to private schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 12, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY – Rowan-Salisbury Schools will pay out about $240,000 to some local private institutions as part of  their share of CARES Act aid money the district received earlier this year.

The schools originally set aside $700,000 out of the $4.7 million awarded to RSS to ensure there would be enough funding if all 13 county private schools chose to participate in the funding provided by the aid package.

Only five schools chose to participate. Accepting state and federal funding can come with additional regulations.

RSS Director of Federal Programs Jerri Hunt said numbers had to be recalculated after the funding share formula met controversy from state education departments, resulting in seven states suing the U.S. Department of Education in July.

The district had to send three forms of communication to schools to ask for participation and then consulted with the schools that responded. Hunt said charter schools each act as their own local education agencies and did not need to consult with the district for funding.

Associate Superintendent of Resources Carol Herndon on Monday night also updated the school board about leave options for faculty and staff. Herndon previously presented options and said the district consulted with law firm Tharrington Smith, which board attorney Ken Soo works for, to ensure it properly summarized COVID-19-related leave options for staff in a flier which includes a flow chart explaining those options.

There are six reasons employees can use emergency leave provisions which only apply due to circumstances connected to COVID-19 and prevent an employee from working or teleworking ranging from quarantining to caring for someone who is ill.

Depending on the situation, an employee could receive 100% of two-thirds pay. An employee can only receive 100% pay for up to two weeks if the employee has been advised to quarantine or has COVID-19 symptoms and is awaiting a diagnosis. Herndon said she is pushing the information out to stakeholders who need to be aware of the options.

In other news from the meeting:

  • The district will consult with county government on its interest in applying for the Needs-Based Public School Capital Grant again. The district applied as a part of a Tier 2 county last year and did not receive any of the possible $10 million. The matching grant fund supports critical capital needs in Tier 2 and Tier 1 counties on the North Carolina Department of Commerce County Distress rankings. More grant money is available to Tier 1 counties at a better matching rank, and historically these grants were only made available to Tier 1 counties which rank the worst in terms of economic distress in the state. The board opted to consult with the county about the status of capital funding before moving forward with an application.
  •  Herndon presented the job description for the new health room assistant position. Assistants will be hired on temporary 10-month contracts to assist with COVID-19 related safety measures like screenings and observations. Assistants will report directly to school nurses and the director of student services. The 17 assistants will also provide first aid and administer medications. The positions will be funded through CARES Act money. The board approved the district moving forward with hires.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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