MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama Department of Education will be asking state lawmakers for more money in the next education budget as federal COVID relief funds dry up.
That federal money directed for schools must be spent by next fall. Once it runs out, education officials want lawmakers to consider putting state savings toward programs supported by those federal dollars.
Alabama received roughly $3 billion as part of federal pandemic relief funds. Schools have until September 2024 to spend the final round of that money.
Intended as one-time funding, some schools have used the money to hire teachers, social workers, nurses and more.
“We are worried a little bit that we won’t have the funds to cover everything,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey said following last week’s State Board of Education meeting.
Mackey said he hopes the state can ease the transition and pull from money lawmakers set aside last session because of a surplus.
He said other things at risk include summer reading and after-school programs.
“The state has saved a lot of money, at the end of this month we’ll have a couple billion dollars in savings and hopefully that will help us not have a funding cliff but have more of a level, easy landing,” Mackey said.
This comes as education officials are putting together their fiscal year (FY) 2025 budget proposal. The FY 2024 education budget begins this October at a record high of $8.8 billion.
News 19 asked Gov. Kay Ivey whether she supports increased funding as these federal dollars dry up.
“We’ll have to deal with it. But in my time as governor, we’ve worked hard to make wise investments, and we will certainly continue to do that, but educating our children is a high priority,” Ivey said.
Lawmakers will consider budget proposals beginning next legislative session in February.