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Ainsworth awards capital grants to 327 schools

Nearly $179 million in one-time money was awarded to 327 K-12 public schools through a new capital improvements grant program administered by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth. 

“Before awarding grants, we consulted with lawmakers across the state to gather their insights because they know their districts and the biggest needs within them,” Ainsworth said Friday in a written statement.

The Capital Grant Program was created earlier this year by the Legislature, which gave Ainsworth responsibility for awarding the grants.

“We reviewed each application with strict adherence to the law, prioritized the schools and systems where funding would make the biggest impact, and worked hard to make sure each geographic region and area of the state received a fair allocation,” Ainsworth said.

Eighty percent of the grants were awarded to schools in which more than half of the students are considered at-risk, Ainsworth’s office said. Individual awards range from several thousand dollars to $5 million.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and says awarded funds can be used to:

  • Assist with capital projects that will enhance the educational environment of students;
  • Pay for existing debt on previous capital projects;
  • Assist with deferred maintenance on existing facilities;
  • Assist with projects to increase school safety and security and for technology and equipment for schools or students.

Orr previously said the money is intended to help with the explosion in construction costs in the past year and allow schools to complete their capital projects in the black.

He also said lawmakers wanted a more targeted funding mechanism based on need and local match dollars, rather than the rigid disbursement formula such as what’s used in the Advancement and Technology Fund, which is allocated based on schools’ student population.

For a complete list of schools receiving grants, click here.


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