Community Blog: The EDge

An unclaimed $6 million for Idaho public schools

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Idaho School Boards Association’s weekly newsletter.

Idaho has $6,021,000 in unclaimed money from a federal bond program — dollars that could be used for a variety of purposes: energy efficiency and renewable energy; building renovation and repair; technology; curriculum development; and teacher training.

The $1 billion federal program is known as Quality Zone Academy Bonds, or QZAB. Districts that qualify for the program have 25 years to pay off the federal loans, interest-free.

Idaho schools have received $2,039,000 in QZAB money for 2013.

Idaho isn’t the only state with far more unclaimed QZAB money than allocated dollars. Nationally, schools are spending $400 million, leaving unclaimed money in excess of $1 billion.

“These funds should not just be spent to spend them, but there are many legitimate applications,” Arthur Stellar, vice president of the National Education Foundation, writes in the ISBA’s newsletter. “However, it is a pretty good bet that if these funds are not requested and properly implemented, the federal government will eliminate this billion dollars (sic) for education by 2014.”

Districts must meet income restrictions in order to qualify for QZAB money; 35 percent of students must qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. Districts must provide a 10 percent match, from a business or nonprofit partner. But Stellar writes that the National Education Foundation, his organization, will provide matching money.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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