More than $25M in federal grant money coming to NC to provide better pay for teachers, expand school breakfast programs

More than $25M in federal grant money coming to NC to provide better pay for teachers, expand school breakfast programs

More than $25 million in federal grant money is heading to North Carolina and it will help provide educators with better pay and working conditions, and will also be used to help increase student participation in school breakfast programs.

The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that schools here will receive $24 million in grants to help them recruit and keep teachers, WFAE reported. The federal Teacher and School Leader grants support programs that provide better pay, working conditions and diversity for public schools. The grants accomplish those goals at least partly by providing performance-based compensation for teachers. 

North Carolina received nearly 21% of the $115 million in grants awarded in the country this year.

The awards were:

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools got $2.8 million to expand its Teacher-Leader Pathways program, which offers raises of up to $18,250 a year for effective teachers who take on extra duties coaching colleagues and working with more students.
  • Wake County Schools got $4.6 million to launch a program called Project LEADERS, which creates performance-based teacher pay at 24 high-need schools. 
  • Montgomery County Schools got $8.3 million for a new teacher and principal effectiveness program in 11 high-need schools.
  • The Innovation Project, a Raleigh-based group that’s working with eight North Carolina school districts, was awarded $8.3 million this year. Its news release says it will get $21.5 million over three years for work recruiting teachers and principals in Asheboro City Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools, Lexington City Schools, Mount Airy City Schools, Scotland County Schools, Vance County Schools and Warren County Schools.

The federal report indicates all these districts are likely to get three years of funding, which would more than triple the total for the North Carolina projects, according to WFAE.

In addition to these grants, Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week that he would be directing $1.4 million in federal grant funding to help school districts and charter schools expand their school breakfast programs, the governor’s office announced.

Research shows that eating a healthy school breakfast and lunch not only improves student attendance but also discipline and academic performance.

“A child who is hungry can’t learn and many children can’t or won’t eat when they have to get up so early,” said Cooper. “Innovative efforts that get breakfast to children in the classroom are proven to encourage them to eat which will improve their educational success.”

The governor is partnering with the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and the Carolina Hunger Initiative (CHI) on the program. The two organizations will use the funds to run a competitive program that will provide grants of up to $50,000 per school nutrition program to help them implement “innovative school breakfast models,” such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Second Chance Breakfast, and Grab and Go Breakfast. These models have been shown to increase school breakfast participation, especially among students who qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch, the governor’s office said.

Funding for the grant program comes from federal Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) funds that have reverted to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund.

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Patrick Zarcone

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