Howard County will allocate nearly $6 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to its public school system, the county’s executive, Calvin Ball, said Wednesday.
“Today I’m pleased to announce a critical next step in supporting our community with our students with CARES Act funding. Howard County will provide nearly $6 million to support our schools as they offset COVID-19-related expenditures for our educators and our students,” Ball (D) said in an online press gaggle.
He added: “We all want the best teaching and learning environment possible. And we want our students to return safely to school as soon as possible.”
Ball explained in detail how the grant money will be used:
- $2.8 million for “technology to support teachers and students”
- $2.5 million for “public health and safety items for students, staff and facilities”
- $400,000 to “provide meals for students”
- $200,000 to “cover increased unemployment costs”
Ball said it is critical that Congress pass another stimulus package to provide more money for states.
Ball said Howard County will create a CARES Act spending dashboard to enable the public to keep track of how the money is spent.
“This dashboard will track the county’s actual and projected spending as we near the Dec. 30th federal deadline for expending all funds.”
Howard County School Superintendent Michael Martirano said the funds are of critical importance to the county’s schools.
“The additional CARES Act funding being provided to the school system will provide critical financial support-more expenses incurred to ensure the continuation of robust instructional delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Martirano elaborated on that point.
“The funds being received will reduce the impact of the on-budget costs for the FY 2021 Howard County Public School system budget and enable the Howard County public school system to continue to innovate and identify additional resources to bolster virtual instruction in our small group in-person learning centers merging to an eventual hybrid instructional model. And, ultimately…face-to-face learning.”
Martirano said the county’s school system would have face an even more challenging situation had the new funds not been provided.
“Without these funds, we would be facing an even greater challenge to meet the needs of our students and staff as we are managing limited resources. These funds will enable us to manage the fiscal impacts of the pandemic to provide the supports and the additional resources needed.”
There are 171,823 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Wednesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 4,201 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 6.82%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted nearly 4,000,000 COVID-19 tests.
Howard County has 7,005 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 126 virus-related deaths.