American Rescue Plan Money Headed To States

Topics: Advocacy and Legislation, Pandemic Leadership

American Rescue Plan Implementation

The recent passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $122 billion in direct funding to K-12 schools across the country. Schools face a gauntlet of daunting challenges in the coming months: reopening schools safely and keeping them open, implementing robust academic recovery interventions, and addressing an avalanche of student mental health needs. ARP positions K-12 schools to confront these challenges head on and lay the foundation to recovery. As was the case with previous federal COVID relief bills, a state education agency must allocate at least 90 percent of its ARP grant funds to districts via Title I, A formula. While the ARP funding is sorely needed and a welcomed development, NAESP is strongly focused on the implementation of these funds and ensuring that principals are meaningfully engaged and empowered throughout all phases of implementation, recognizing principals know best their individual school’s needs.

  • NAESP/NASSP Op-Ed: NAESP Executive Director L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE, and NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe wrote an op-ed published in The 74, laying out four key reasons why leveraging principals is critical to successful ARP implementation.
  • Majority of ARP Funds Released to States: On March 24, the Department of Education made available two-thirds of states’ ARP allocation. The department announced this week that for states and districts to receive the remaining one-third they will need to demonstrate how they will engage stakeholders in the development of their APR use-of-funds plan. This announcement reinforces NAESP push to ensure principals are brought to the table throughout the implementation process.
  • Summer Learning & Enrichment Collaborative: NAESP is partnering with the Department of Education on a summer learning collaborative focused on boosting summer learning opportunities.
  • Department of Education Reopening Handbook Vol. 2: The Department of Education released Volume 2 of its reopening handbook, which focuses on addressing lost instructional time and supporting educator and staff wellbeing.
  • COVID Safe Schools Best Practices Clearinghouse: The Department of Education also released a Best Practices Clearinghouse, a hub for best practices and lessons for operating safely during and after the pandemic.
  • Homeless Student Funding: The Department of Education announced its plan to distribute $800 million included in ARP to help support the needs of students experiencing homelessness. State allocations can be found here.

Remote Learning Funding: ARP included $7.2 billion increase to the E-Rate program—a key NAESP legislative priority—which will bolster schools’ ability to provide broadband and device access for disconnected students. NAESP is currently engaged in advocacy efforts at the Federal Communications Commission, including providing feedback and public comments on how the new infusion of funds should be distributed and what types of services and education technology should qualify for reimbursement.

Attention Shifts to Infrastructure, School Facilities

On March 31, President Biden released a new infrastructure proposal, The American Jobs Plan. The package focuses mostly on infrastructure such as roads and bridges, but it also includes funding directed at schools. Specifically, the proposal includes $100 billion—$50 billion in direct grants and $50 billion leveraged through bonds—to upgrade and modernize school facilities. NAESP has historically supported legislation that provides federal support for school facility upgrades, but the school facility issue takes on greater urgency as districts and schools look to make HVAC and ventilation upgrades in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 28, President Biden released a second package, The American Families Plan. The proposal includes a $200 billion national partnership with states to offer universal preschool for five million three- and four-year-olds. The American Families Plan also includes $9 billion to boost the educator pipeline, including funding for scholarships for future teachers, educator residency programs, and credentialing to receive additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education and bilingual education. Details on the educator pipeline provisions:

  • Doubling the TEACH Grant: Doubles the TEACH grant from $4,000 per year to $8,000 per year and expanding it to early childhood educators.
  • Grow Your Own: A $2.8 billion program that would fund yearlong paid residency programs.
  • Earning In-Demand Credentials: $1.6 billion to help educators obtain certifications in high-demand areas, such as special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance.
  • Teacher Leadership: $2 billion to support programs that provide high-quality mentorship programs for novice teachers and teachers of color to develop them as teacher leaders.

Piece of the Pie: A visual representation of how education fits into The American Jobs Plan and The American Families Plan can be found here

FY22 Budget Released

On April 9, the Biden administration released its FY22 Budget Request. A few highlights:

  • Department of Education: 41 percent increase to the Department of Education’s overall budget
  • Title I: $36.5 billion for Title I, a $20 billion increase over FY 2021
  • IDEA Funding: $15.5 billion for IDEA, a $2.6 billion increase
  • School Mental Health Support: An additional $1 billion to increase the number of counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in K-12 schools

Other Updates and Tidbits

  • Fall Reopening Outlook: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona expects full school reopenings this fall.
  • Learning Recovery: What are the best learning recovery strategies? Some ideas.
  • Gaps in Summer Learning Planning: District summer learning plans lack specifics, key details.
  • Child Vaccines: CDC director says vaccines for children under 12 unlikely in 2021.

Fewer students receiving remote-only instruction: Only 3.3 percent of students are attending districts offering remote-only instruction. 67.1 percent of districts are offering traditional, five days a week of in-person instruction.