Oct. 14, 2002 – To prevent the loss of $15 million in federal funds, acting Education Commissioner Noreen Michael convinced U.S. Department of Education officials during a recent trip to Washington, D.C., to convert the existing grant into a planning grant.
"It was either that or lose the grant," Michael told the Board of Education. "When we got to Washington, the discussion was about not letting us get the money at all."
For Fiscal Year 2001, the Virgin Islands received $31.9 million in federal education funds. But according to a report from the V.I. government, the funds were received on Sept. 30, 2001, the last day of the fiscal year, and the territory was given nine months to spend the money, instead of the usual two years.
According to a status report delivered at the Board of Education meeting on Friday, the territory is a year behind schedule receiving federal education funds, which shortened the amount of time in which Education must spend the money or send it back. Dwight Simmonds, director of grants and audits for the Education Department, said the grants were late for "various reasons."
Simmonds said all but $1.4 million of the 2001 grant was obligated, but it was hard to engage local vendors because they were reluctant to do business with the V.I. government based on a history of payment and collection problems.
Michael said part of the planning grant funds will be used to meet the requirements of a new compliance agreement between local and federal education officials. The rest will be used to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment for Education Department staff and to meet requirements of the new No Child Left Behind Act.
Michael and members of her staff delivered the funding report to the Board of Education because the board has oversight on federal education funds. Evadney Hodge, board executive director, expressed dismay upon hearing that the acting commissioner had decided how the would be received and spent without consulting the board.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.