A spokesman for Nashville Mayor John Cooper said Tuesday that the federal CARES Act gives city officials plenty of room to spend COVID-19 relief money on laptops for public school students in Davidson County.
“The U.S. Treasury Department’s guidance on the CARES Act funds specifically provides for ‘expenses to facilitate distance learning, including technological improvements, in connection with school closings to enable compliance with COVID-19 precautions,’” said Cooper spokesman Chris Song, in an email to The Tennessee Star Tuesday.
“The federal government’s guidance also generally allows for ‘expenditures incurred to respond to second-order effects of the emergency.’”
On Tuesday some followers of The Star’s Facebook page questioned whether it’s proper to spend COVID-19 relief money on something not directly related to the virus.
Facebook user Karen Quinn Radziewicz, for instance, said “That’s NOT what the money was meant for.”
Nashville resident Dennis L. Giacomino, meanwhile, pondered on Facebookwhether this $24 million investment of taxpayer money will increase test scores and graduation rates.
We asked Song whether this expenditure was the kind of COVID-19 relief that people had in mind.
“This is exactly the type of vital investment in our community that Nashvillians had in mind.”
Staff from the Metro Nashville Public School System did not return a request for comment Tuesday.
As The Star reported, Cooper is directing $24 million in funding from the federal CARES Act to provide every public school student in Nashville-Davidson County with a laptop.
And students who need internet connectivity will get it.
This, according to the city’s COVID-19 website.
“This investment is sufficient for Dell Computers to provide Metro Nashville with up to 90,000 laptops for the projected 84,740 students who will be enrolled in traditional and charter schools in the upcoming school year,” according to the website.
“The cost of each computer will be just above $200 per device, a significant reduction from their list price.”
Earlier this summer, MNPS surveyed families to determine how many families had access to the Internet. Fifteen percent of families who responded to the survey reported that they did not have internet access. Adjusting for no respondents, MNPS has estimated that 20 percent of their families lack internet access, the website said.
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