Weekly NewsBrief 3/8/21 - 3/14/21

News Clip

 

Superintendents call for sustained funding as American Rescue Plan provides nearly $123B for K-12 – By Noaz Modan, K-12 Dive

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress' latest COVID-19 relief bill, passed a final 220-211 vote in the House and is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden. It includes $122.8 billion for K-12 under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, in addition to a separate $7.2 billion for E-rate through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which district leaders pushed for after previous emergency packages failed to include E-rate funding, and nearly $3.1 billion for IDEA and $1 billion for Head Start. 

States must distribute 90% of ESSER funds received to districts, including charters, within 60 days. The remaining funds must be used by states to address learning losses and social-emotional needs of students, put in place summer enrichment and afterschool programs, purchase ed tech, and address any other emergency or administrative needs. 

Districts must use at least 20% of their funding toward addressing students' SEL needs and learning loss through summer programs, extended school days, extended school year programs or other intervention methods. The remaining funds can be used toward carrying out general district needs related to COVID-19.

 

Coronavirus is straining Colorado kids’ mental health. The state hopes free counseling sessions will help – By Erica Breunlin, The Colado Sun

East Grand School District’s 1,305 students have been forced to cope with an immeasurable amount of stress this year, first in the form of a pandemic, followed by a wildfire racing through their community, burning more than 100,000 acres within hours.

Amid the ashes left by the East Troublesome Fire last fall, there remains a deep sense of trauma that will continue to impact students for years to come. 

Like many leaders of Colorado school districts, East Grand School District Superintendent Frank Reeves worried about his students’ mental health long before a pandemic or wildfire threatened his community. He’ll keep worrying long after.

After a year of turmoil, Reeves says “almost every decision we’ve been making lately is really weighted on that social-emotional piece as much as anything academic.”

It’s a concern that cuts across Colorado’s 178 school districts as they split their focus between students’ well-being and their academic progress.

Two proposals, one in the statehouse and one included in a roughly $700 million state economic stimulus plan made public by state lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday, have been floated to help screen students’ mental health. Educators, parents, health care providers and state officials know that statistically, kids’ mental health is in crisis after more than a year into the pandemic. Emergency room visits for students reaching a breaking point have risen, with more kids reporting thoughts of suicide.

 

Congress approves massive infusion of funds for schools, and high-poverty districts will get the most – By Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat

Schools across the U.S. will receive a massive and historic infusion of money in the coming months thanks to a pandemic relief package that includes $128 billion for K-12 education and hundreds of billions for state governments.

Congress approved the package, known as the American Rescue Plan, on Wednesday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that President Biden, who proposed and championed the legislation, will sign it into law Friday.

The result is a dramatic reversal in fortune for school budgets. When the pandemic shuttered schools and businesses last spring, experts warned that the ensuing economic dip threatened to hit the country’s disadvantaged schools hardest. Now, some of those districts may find themselves flush with cash.

The new money comes to nearly $2,500 per student nationwide, but high-poverty districts will see more. Cleveland’s school district, where the vast majority of students come from low-income families, will receive roughly $8,000 per student, on top of the $4,500 per student it has already received in pandemic relief. Tulsa Public Schools in Oklahoma is expecting to receive $3,700 per student, on top of the $2,300 per child it has already received.