Just hours after Governor Sununu and the new Republican-led Executive Council were sworn in for the biennium they met to approve a federal charter school grant worth more than $45 million. Frank Edelblut, Department of Education Commissioner, also announced the procurement of an additional $156 million in education aid for Granite State schools.

The long-fought charter school grant passed the fiscal committee in December as Republicans took control of the House and Senate and received final approval Thursday from the 4-1 Republican Executive Council. Democrat Cinde Warmington, the Council’s lone Democrat, was the sole vote against. She cited concerns that the grant would defund traditional public districts.

New Hampshire Democrats had never before rejected federal education funding.

Charter schools have been awaiting the funding for more than a year. Despite being stymied by the previous Democrat majority until now, several have already applied for the grant funding to expand or open new schools.

The $156 million in new aid announced Thursday comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed into law earlier this month by President Trump. Its aim is “to help school districts in their continuing response to COVID, including safely reopening schools, assessing student learning, and other actions to mitigate the impact of COVID19 on the students and families,” according to a Department of Education release.

“COVID-19 has been the most disruptive event in the history of New Hampshire education, forcing us to adopt new methods of instruction and work even harder to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students,” said New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

“These funds will provide additional resources to close the gaps that this pandemic has widened,” Edelblut added, noting that his department is developing school-level allocations which will be released as soon as they are available.