Minnesota school districts and charters will receive $126 million as part of the over $13 billion in Federal Emergency Coronavirus Relief (CARES) to support continued education for K-12 students. This represents 90 percent of the $141 million in funding Minnesota receives through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
Each state needs to allocate this funding in proportion to the amount of funds each school district or charter school received under part A of title I of the ESEA of 1965 in the most recent fiscal year.
- These funds must be expended by September 31, 2021.
- School districts need to be cognizant that this timeframe covers three fiscal years: FY ’20, ‘21 and ’22.
- School districts should plan carefully how to use these funds for high priority needs in their district among all the allowable uses. (See below)
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will most likely issue guidance and support for districts as they prioritize uses for these funds.
Impact by District
MREA estimates districts and charters will receive 83 percent of their 2019 Title I Part A funding. See the impact by district. MREA created this district run on CARES funding based on Title funding from MDE.
There may be a catch.
The act includes language that would enable states to apply for a waiver for their maintenance of effort compliance for state education funding. That means while the federal funds would roll to the local level, they wouldn’t feel like relief because any state with that waiver would be able to make cuts in state funding to schools.
Minnesota did this with much of the relief funds during the Great Recession. It was done at the state level so Minnesota could continue state aid at a 0% and 0% increase for the biennium and not make reductions in state aid.
The timing now is different, because Minnesota is 10 months into the two-year biennium. Should Minnesota ask for a waiver, the mechanism would have to be different, because these emergency relief funds are to be distributed proportionately to Title I Part A.
MREA will work to prevent a reduction in aid and recommend shifting school payments to the next biennium, as has been done in the past, to help balance the state’s budget should that be needed.
Using the Funds
Allowable uses of funds by school districts and charters include:
(1) Any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965, including the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) (‘‘IDEA’’), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.) (‘‘the Perkins Act’’), or subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.).
(2) Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
(3) Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
(4) Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
(5) Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies.
(6) Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
(7) Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
(8) Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
(9) Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
(10) Providing mental health services and supports.
(11) Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
(12) Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.