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NC Education Officials Say Schools Need $382M More For Virus Expenses

Emergency meal service is one of the costs included in the request.

The shift to remote learning, emergency meals and other adjustments to the COVID-19 crisis have created an additional $382 million in needs for North Carolina public schools.

That's the estimate presented at Thursday's state Board of Education meeting as a request to the General Assembly for additional funding.

The items listed include:

  • About $153 million to provide devices and improve internet connections for the online learning that has taken the place of in-class instruction. That includes $91.5 million for Chromebooks to send home with students.
  • About $80 million to boost pay by $5 an hour for school nutrition and transportation workers who are providing emergency meals while schools are closed.
  • About $70 million for a "jump start" summer program that lawmakers are considering as a way to help elementary school students who have fallen behind prepare for the next school year.
  • About $55 million to provide more training and pay for social workers, psychologists, nurses and counselors who are doing extra work to deal with the crisis.
  • About $18 million to provide additional help to students with disabilities whose education has been disrupted.
  • About $6 million for additional expenses, including cybersecurity and oversight of state and federal COVID-19 relief money.

The state board voted unanimously to approve the request. Board Chair Eric Davis then presented it to a House panel working on COVID-19 education issues Thursday afternoon.
State Rep. John Fraley of Iredell County, a co-chair of that group, said they wouldn't vote on the requests or include financial requests in the proposed legislation the group is working on. Instead, he said Senate and House leadership will work with Gov. Roy Cooper to come to a consensus on a spending bill.

The House panel has also heard requests for $25 million for community colleges, $46 million from the UNC system and $71 million from an independent college association.