Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools among 12 districts receiving federal grant for hurricane recovery

North Carolina has received a $2 million federal grant to help 12 school systems and one charter school recover from damage caused by hurricanes Florence and Michael, the state superintendent announced Wednesday.

Posted Updated

Kelly Hinchcliffe
, WRAL education reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has received a $2 million federal grant to help 12 school systems and one charter school recover from damage caused by Hurricanes Florence and Michael, the state superintendent announced Wednesday.

The money will help more than 130,000 students in 272 schools with projects such as rebuilding playgrounds, transporting students displaced by the storm to allow them to continue attending their home schools, paying those who preserved and restored school facilities, and providing additional instructional time.

The following districts and charter school will receive the money:

  • Bladen County Schools
  • Brunswick County Schools
  • Carteret County Schools
  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools
  • Davidson County Schools
  • Jones County Schools
  • New Hanover County Schools
  • Onslow County Schools
  • Pender County Schools
  • Randolph County Schools
  • Public Schools of Robeson County
  • Sampson County Schools
  • Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington

"We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for recognizing the impact that these storms continue to have to students and educators in North Carolina," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said in a statement. "A violent storm is disruptive and can have a long-lasting, traumatic effect on students and affect their academic performance and mental health. These resources will help us ensure these schools continue to be the anchor of their communities."

The $2 million grant is in addition to funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, insurance claims, Florence Aid to Students and Teachers of North Carolina (FAST NC) and those appropriated specifically for hurricane recovery by the North Carolina General Assembly, and can be used to reimburse recipient entities for expenses already incurred.

The source of the additional financial support is Project SERV (School Emergency Response to Violence and Disaster), a fund established by the U.S. Congress and provided through the U.S. Department of Education, originally in response to the Columbine, Colorado, shooting incident of April 1999. Project SERV was established initially to support schools following a traumatic event that had significantly disrupted a school’s routine functioning through an act of violence. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the circumstances covered by Project SERV were expanded to include natural disasters.

The Department of Public Instruction’s divisions that are focused on curriculum and federal programs, led by Christie Lynch Ebert and Michael Wells, respectively, submitted a statewide application for the SERV grant on behalf of the districts and charter school.

"I thank Michael, Christie and their teams, as well as the local superintendents and charter leaders, for their work on behalf of our students and educators," Johnson said. "We pledge to disburse these funds quickly to these well-deserving schools."

State school nutrition staff estimate that 50,000 students in disaster counties have benefited from a waiver the state education department sought and obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that allowed schools to provide meals at no cost to all students during the disaster recovery phase.

State leaders made $95 million available to local school districts so schools could reopen in the wake of the storm. On Oct. 15, the General Assembly appropriated $35 million to add to the $25 million Gov. Roy Cooper made available Oct. 8. On Dec. 3, the General Assembly provided an additional $35 million. The legislature has also ensured that all school personnel paid through state funds will receive pay if they missed a day due to the storm and would have been scheduled to work that day, according to the superintendent's office.

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