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The money is needed, but has many strings attached

By NEESEY PAYNE

neesey@southwesttimes.com

Federal money provides funding to schools in a variety of ways. At Pulaski County High School Perkins funds provide a means to fund programs for students enrolled in vocational courses.

In 2006, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was established under the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) to provide federal funds to career and technical education students. Furnished through state basic grants, Perkins funds focus on the academic achievement of students through strengthening connections between secondary and post-secondary education.

Carl Perkins funding is given to the state, of which 15 percent of that money is distributed to Virginia community colleges and 85 percent to local school divisions. This year, Pulaski County Public Schools received $89,770.04 in funding. At the schools’ last budget workshop, Ross Matney, CTE director and assistant principal at PCHS, said funding is distributed based on two factors:

1. The number of individuals residing in a school division between the ages of 5 and 17.

2. The number of individuals residing in a school division between the ages of 5 and 17 who are below the poverty line.

Thirty percent of funding ($19,744.99) was allocated based on the first factor and 70 percent ($70,025.05) based on the second.

Although helpful in providing for the needs of students, federal Perkins funds do come with some strings attached.

Funds cannot be spent for:

• Capital improvements, upgrades or improvements to physical structures, buildings, classrooms, laboratories, etc.;

• Used, reconditioned, or repaired equipment;

• Equipment repairs or to purchase repair parts;

• Installation of equipment unless included in the original purchase price;

• Materials, supplies, and/or items that are consumed or materially altered when used (i.e., welding gases, paints, lumber, sheet metal, batteries, etc.).

Funds can be spent for:

• New equipment;

• A classroom reference set of books;

• Computer and software upgrades; and

• Rechargeable batteries if part of the original purchase of equipment (i.e., digital camera, portable drill, etc.).

Matney said there are specific criteria equipment must meet before it can be purchased, such as it must retain its original shape and appearance, serve its use for at least one year and be non-expendable.

All funds must be used during the specified school year. “Unspent funds will result in forfeiture of remaining allocated funds,” said Matney.

Pulaski County School Board member Joe Guthrie said the fact that the school can’t roll over money into the next school year is a “real limitation.”

Matney said rather than getting a complete classroom set of something, the CTE program may order five and have the students share equipment. He added although there are many strings attached to receiving Perkins funding “you just have to work with the limitations.”