Deadline approaches for Alabama schools to spend federal aid money

Deadline approaches for Ala. schools to spend federal aid money

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There are concerns over whether or not Alabama schools will retain more than $170 million in federal funding.

That money was allocated by the state to reimburse school districts, primarily for device purchases. Those districts did order those computers. But with 150,000 of them on back order because of the pandemic, they can’t be paid for, which means no reimbursement and a delay in spending that federal money before the deadline.

However, State Superintendent Eric Mackey says there is a workaround.

“There is a workaround if you can show that you have a legitimate back order issue that’s a chain supply issue, and that’s all it is, a chain supply issues, that will be able to get those devices in even if it’s after the deadline but hold that money in escrow to pay for the reimbursement,” Mackey said

Mackey said he plans to meet with superintendents and district chief financial officers next week to discuss mapping out how to spend, file the proper documentation, and discuss plans to work around these issues.

Updated guidance has slightly changed the reporting process for schools and who is sent home related to COVID-19.

Those who encounter a person who is deemed sick will only go home if that person reported losing their sense of taste or smell. The state’s top pediatrician says this is because COVID has broad symptoms that overlap with other illnesses, but loss of taste or smell is typically always associated with COVID.

This updated guidance will be available for all schools next week.

“We will be able to roll out by Tuesday a complete plan for superintendents and school lead nurses to see, so they know what to do under the newly issued guidance,” Mackey said.

Nurses will now only report cases to the state for people who test positive or who have lost their sense of taste or smell.

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