County schools expect $2.5M in stimulus fund

Published 12:18 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

Covington County school board officials said Tuesday they expect to know by March 23 just how much money the system is set to receive from President Obama’s stimulus package, as well as how they should spend it.

Superintendent Sharon Dye said she, along with two local board members and other superintendents from around the state, will attend a meeting with Joe Morton, state superintendent of education, that day.

Dye said reports indicate Morton and other state officials will meet March 10 to outline the information for the state’s school systems.

“After that meeting, they tell us we should come away with an adequate understanding of the type of money it is, how much and how we can use it,” she said. “And it couldn’t come at a better time.”

Preliminary figures show the system is set to receive nearly $2.5 million over the next two years. Countywide, the three systems are expected to receive an estimated $4.5 million. Those funds are designated for both capital improvement projects, Title I funds and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act compliance funding; however, the amounts change with each report, Dye said.

With state officials asking systems to have “shovel ready” capital improvement projects set to go, members agreed to amend their capital improvement plan to include an estimated $3.7 million in construction projects.

“We’re not expecting to even get close to that amount, but we’ll work with whatever we get,” Dye said. “The state gave us a list of things and asked that we look at our needs.

“We’ll prioritize our projects as best we can, but we’re going to take that money and do what we can to better our utility bills and provide a more pleasant educational environment,” she said.

Included in the proposed projects are:

replacing 30 heating and air conditioning units.

changing more than 230 ballasts in incandescent lights to electric ballasts.

replacing inefficient windows.

installing insulation in several buildings.