Federal government approves state plan for $15 billion in Covid aid for K-12
California became the 46th state Thursday to have its state plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education for using American Rescue Plan funding that Congress passed in March. The federal OK releases the final third of $15 billion, the state’s entitlement of the $122 billion for K-12 schools nationwide.
Approval was delayed because the State Board of Education, at the urging of student advocacy groups, gave school districts an additional month to consult with the public in drafting plans for spending the Covid-related assistance. The deadline for completing the plans was Oct. 29.
The American Rescue Plan money is the third and biggest portion of the $24 billion that Congress gave states under the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Act since March 2020. Of the $15 billion, $13.5 billion will be sent directly to districts, charter schools and county offices of education. They have great flexibility to use the money, although they must commit 20% to remedy the learning time that students lost during the pandemic. Districts have until September 2024 to spend it.
Because Congress used the Title I formula, which ties funding to poverty rates in a community, with extra money for urban areas, districts’ shares range from a few hundred dollars per student to $11,000 per student in the case of Los Angeles Unified. It requires that districts focus on the needs of students with disabilities, migrant and foster children, English learners and low-income students, plus others most impacted by Covid-19.
The federal government reviewed the state’s plan for overseeing the districts’ use of the money and the 10% – $1.5 billion – that Congress left to the states’ discretion. Gov. Gavin Newsom is applying the funding to subsidize the $4.6 billion Expanded Learning Opportunity grants he announced last spring. Among the uses, districts can fund summer learning, tutoring, community learning hubs and additional school hours.