The nearly $31 billion COVID-19 support package for education will provide $365 million for Minnesota K-12 public schools and higher education.
The breakdown in the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) for Minnesota education includes:
- $140 million for the state of Minnesota to use to fund K-12 education
- $43 million for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
- $181.5 million in direct grants to Minnesota’s higher education institutions
Almost all (90%) of the $140 million to fund K-12 education is to go to school districts. States and school districts receiving these funds must pay their employees and contractors “to the greatest extent practicable.”
The K-12 funds can be used for any allowable purpose authorized under ESEA, IDEA, Perkins CTE, or McKinney-Vento homeless authorities, as well as:
- preparedness and response
- Needs of individual schools
- Sanitation supplies
- Planning for upcoming months
- Technology purchasing (hardware, software, connectivity)
- Mental health services
- Summer and after school activities
This includes online and “other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.”
Future Funding Impact
The Act also includes language that would enable states to apply for a waiver for their maintenance of effort compliance. This means that while the federal funds would roll to the local level, they may not feel like relief because states could make cuts in state funding for schools.
This is what happened in 2009 when Minnesota used a large share of the Federal Education Funds to replace state dollars supporting the General Fund revenue. Minnesota also applied federal funds to increase the Special Education reimbursement.
This is one-time, block-grant funding and the states have until September 2021 to expend the funds. Given this timeline, and that the 2020 legislature is still in session, how these funds are expended will surely be an issue before the legislature adjourns. MREA will monitor and advocate for rural schools needs in the uses of these federal funds.
See other federal bills passed related to COVID-19 impacting schools.
Stay apprised of resources and news on COVID-19 for schools at: MREAvoice.org/covid19