The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced the funding from the CARES Act by school district and plans to release the funds to schools June 30.
The $169 million in funding for Minnesota schools comes from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER).
Funding by the Numbers
- $126.1 million (90%) for school districts based on FY20 Title Ia allocations.
- $13.2 million (9.5%) for charter schools, school districts and tribal schools that did not receive Title Ia funding. This is the Grant Funding in ESSER.
- Tribal schools receive their ESSER allocation through the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).
Using ESSER Funding
There are 12 broad purposes for the ESSER funds in statute. Learn more in MDE’s presentation on the funding.
- MDE has stated it would like school districts to prioritize technology, summer school and mental health supports with these funds, but the Federal Statute is clear on the allocation and broad purposes.
- The funds can be used for expenses dating back to March 13, 2020, and remain available for obligation through September 30, 2022.
GEER Funding Breakdown
Funding by the Numbers
- $30.3 million (70%) for all Minnesota Independent School District agencies, including school districts, charters, cooperatives, education districts, and tribal schools.
- $5.3 million for the Office of Higher Education
- $5 million awarded in competitive grants for nonprofit educational entities
Using GEER Funding
MDE is targeting these funds for technology and summer school programming. Since these are the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funding, MDE has authority to direct their use.
MDE will have this allocation information, district guidance, and application materials available on a dedicated CARES Act Funding Information webpage on June 8. Once districts complete the application, MDE intends to release the funds. The anticipated target date to release funds is June 30.
Equitable Services for Private Schools
For school districts with private or parochial schools, the story is more complex. Under Title I, the equitable services share is based on poverty (the number of low-income children who live in Title I school attendance areas but attend private schools). The idea being that poor children need Title I assistance regardless of the school they attend.
The CARES Act language is very clear in its intent, stating that ES shall be applied in the same manner as section 1117 of ESSA. (Meaning, driving resources based on poverty.)
The U.S. Department of Education in its guidance, wants districts to calculate the Equitable Services set aside by counting all the kids (public and private) and calculate the CARES funding based on those ratios. This means private schools count all students, not just low-income students, in determining the share of CARES Act funding for equitable services. This can significantly change the calculated amounts.
ESSER funds that are driven to districts based on their students in poverty are then redirected in a way that annihilates the concept of equity. Learn more
MDE is providing guidance for school districts to do two Equitable Services set aside calculations. One is based on Free and Reduced (FRE) eligibility counts, one on total enrollment. The calculation based on FRE counts can be provided to private and non-public schools when the district gets the funds and applications are complete.
]The difference between the two calculations should be set aside by districts to allow time for this dispute to be resolved. It is the district’s responsibility to do these calculations.
Take Action on Equitable Services
MREA and NREAC oppose the USDOE guidance. NREAC and AASA have created a quick and concise template to connect with members of Congress on this issue. s]All you need to complete the template email is:
- Your name
- School district name
- Percentage of your school district’s FY19 (2019-20 school year) Title I and Title II set asides for equitable services
This will take congressional action to specify that the CARES funding must calculate Equitable Services in the same manner as section 1117 of ESSA. Meaning, driving resources based on poverty.
Stay apprised of resources and news on COVID-19 for schools at: MREAvoice.org/covid19