On Wednesday, North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson announced applications for funding through the new Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund are now available. The $30 million fund was provided by the General Assembly in this year’s budget to assist school districts in lower-wealth counties with their critical public school building capital needs. Tier 1 counties have priority for the funding.
“This new fund will help smaller school districts replace old buildings that are costly to maintain and no longer serve the districts’ needs with new, efficient and right-sized buildings that meet their 21st century needs,” Johnson said.
The funds are capped at $15 million per project in Tier 1 counties and $10 million per project in Tier 2 counties, and the law requires a local match of $1 for every $3 in grant funds. The fund is restricted to new capital projects, and cannot be used for real property acquisition or for operational lease agreements, unless the lease agreement was executed on or before June 30, 2017. Also, the county cannot have received more than $8.75 million from the Public School Building Capital Fund from fiscal years 2012-13 to 2016-17.
County applications, available at www.schoolclearinghouse.org, are due to the Department of Public Instruction by Oct. 11, and awards will be announced by Nov. 1. The tight timeline is intended to address these critical needs as soon as possible through the fund. In fiscal year 2018-19 and subsequent years, guidance will be issued by July 31, 2018 with an application deadline of Aug. 31, 2018 and award announcements by Sept. 30, 2018.
The funds, provided by revenue from the state lottery, will be a minimum of $30 million this fiscal year and $75 million in the second year of the budget biennium. Under the law, awards will be based on the following criteria:
—Counties designated as development Tier 1 areas
— Counties with greater need and less ability to generate sales tax and property tax revenue
— Counties with a high debt-to-tax revenue ratio
— The extent to which a project will address critical deficiencies in adequately serving the current and future student population.