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Rowan-Salisbury Schools receives $26.3 million grant to accelerate renewal

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools has been awarded a $26.3 million grant to be paid out over three years by the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant has its own title, Accelerate Rowan, and is intended to accelerate the district’s implementation of renewal. The grant is part of the department’s Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program.

The competitive grant program “is designed to support entities in implementing, improving, or expanding their overall Human Capital Management System,” according to the department. It is intended for closing gaps in high need schools.

RSS Superintendent Lynn Moody said the district has been checking emails every day with fingers crossed the district would be awarded the grant and will have details on how the district can use the funding to move renewal forward and pay teachers for the extra work they have been doing.

“This is the best news I could possibly deliver,” Moody said.

The administration will have more information on the grant by the next board meeting on Oct. 12.

RSS still has to make plans for how to use the funding. The district’s annual budget is about $192 million and the grant represents about 2.5% of the district’s budget for the next three years.

The grant was announced Monday at the end of the district Board of Education’s business meeting. Moody said she received an email confirming the district was awarded the grant during the board’s closed session.

“I am like, over the moon excited,” Moody said.

Moody said there is enough money in the grant to pay teachers for their work on renewal and fund other the grant would fund other parts of renewal the district wants to accomplish but has not been able to fund.

“The new superintendent should be in a really great place,” Moody, who is retiring at the end of the year, said.

Moody said the district wrote the grant during the pandemic and thought the district stood a good chance to land the grant because other education agencies may have “had their eye off the ball.”

Renewal is a special status granted to RSS that gives the district charter-like freedoms not afforded to any other district in the state like the ability to set its own calendar and make broader lateral entry hires for the district and use funding with fewer restrictions.

Board Chair Kevin Jones said the board was aware the grant was possible, but it is hard to get excited about so much money before it happens.

“I can’t wait to see how we can use that,” Jones said.

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