CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools received millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds in the past two years. The deadline to spend some of the money is coming in the next few months.
CMS Schools received a total of $493.1 million in initial COVID-19 relief funds in three payments: one for $33.7 million, another for $141.7 million, and a third for $317.7 million.
The district held its first Municipal Education Advisory Committee Meeting of the year this week. The committee consists of leadership from Charlotte and surrounding townships and discussed where COVID-19 relief money has been spent.
"We look at Cares Act funding," Katie Sunseri, the CMS Federal Programs Executive Director, said. "This was really primarily used as sort of those immediate needs as the pandemic began."
The first payment in 2020 mostly went to remote and hybrid teaching tools, like laptops, as well as health and safety concerns including PPE. The deadline to spend this money is September 2022.
The second payment was also mostly spent on health and safety, but $22.9 million -- almost 16% of the funds -- went to staffing. This allowed the district to provide a COVID-related responsibility stipend to some staff and implement the emergency leave option. This money must be used by September 2023.
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The last payment of $317.7 million still has $99.8 million not spent, planned for, or set aside as of January. Although, about $49 million of this money will be used towards the doubling of CMS retention bonuses passed in February. Most of the money used from the last payment went toward retaining staff, including through recruitment and retention bonuses.
The district has roughly $50-51 million dollars of COVID relief money it must decide how to spend.
All the money must be earmarked by September 2024.