Fiscal Panel Asked To OK Federal Funds for School Security, Nursing Homes

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Courtesy photo

Frank Edelblut, commissioner of the Department of Education

By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org

CONCORD — State agencies want to use more than $60 million of federal American Recovery Plan Act money to improve school security and refurbish county nursing homes.

The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee will vote on the proposals for spending the federal money Friday.

The Department of Education plans to use $10.26 million of the federal money to improve security for both public and non-public schools in the state.

Under the proposal from Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, $10 million in grants will go to schools and the remaining money will cover administrative costs.

“We estimate this funding will provide approximately 250 additional awards,” Edelblut said, “ranging from $40,000 to $50,000 based on prior proposals and awards.”

The program will be administered through the Public School Infrastructure Fund and Public School Infrastructure Commission established in 2017.

The program awarded $27.75 million for 619 security and infrastructure projects between 2018 and 2021.

The program was amended in 2021 to allow non-public schools to participate.

The commission will develop applications for schools to propose projects, which will be submitted to the commission for review, the commissioner said.
The commission will make recommendations to the Governor, who will determine which projects are funded, he said.

Edelblut said his department is seeking additional federal money for the program.

School security has been a focus in recent weeks after the killing of 19 students and two teachers in Texas by an 18-year-old, who purchased the gun after his 18th birthday.

Nursing Homes

The Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery will ask the fiscal committee to approve spending $50 million in AROC federal money to fund the County Nursing Home Infrastructure Program.

The money will be used to mitigate and prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks, to enhance safety for residents and their families, and to help fund facility improvements, according to Taylor Caswell, GOFERR executive director.

Under the program, counties would cover 60 percent of project costs and the infrastructure fund would pay for 40 percent.

Caswell said there will be two rounds of applications with the first for “shovel ready projects” or those that address an identified need or are more pressing or life threatening. The minimum grant in the first phase will be $5 million.

The first round will be competitive, but the second will be “noncompetitive” with a minimum grant of $1 million.

Awards will be reviewed and approved by the Governor and Executive Council, and projects must comply with all federal requirements, Caswell said.

The program is open to the state’s 10 counties.

The Fiscal Committee meets at 10 a.m. in rooms 210-211 of the Legislative Office Building.

Garry Rayno may be reached at garry.rayno@yahoo.com.

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