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MI approved for nearly $390 million in education funding

(WCAX)
Published: May. 1, 2020 at 9:48 AM EDT
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Schools in the state of Michigan have been approved to receive millions of dollars in funding, according to an announcement from the Michigan Department of Education.

The department of education said Michigan schools will receive nearly $390 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

The department said the $13.2 billion ESSER fund gives emergency relief funds "to address the impact that the COVID-19 public health crisis has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the United States."

The ESSER fund was included as part of the $2 trillion federal CARES Act.

“These are vitally important resources to help our schools reduce the strain caused by this global pandemic,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Schools can use the funds to meet a variety of current education needs, but must recognize that these funds are one-time revenues.”

The department of education said it will award 90% of the $389,796,984 in funding to eligible school districts based on the 2019-2020 Title I, Part A funding formula that is required by the CARES Act.

Rice said the ESSER funds are a one-time appropriation and will not be ongoing funding for school districts.

In order to receive funds, districts must submit an online application that includes a brief narrative of their most important educational needs, information on how they will provide equitable access to students, teachers, parents and families along with a budget that outlines their intended use of the funds.

The Michigan Department of Education said according to the guidance handed down by the U.S. Department of Education, school districts may use the ESSER funds for the following:

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, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, or subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

2. Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local school districts 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 other 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 school districts.

6. Training and professional development for staff of the local school district on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.

7. Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local school district, 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, 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 school district 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 after school 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 and continuity of services in local school districts and continuing to employ existing staff of the local school district.

The department of education said a part of the CARES Act, Section 18003 of Division B, allows the Michigan Department of Education to reserve up to 10% of the state ESSER fund award to support allowable activities. The department said it will use the reserve to establish an educational equity fund. The department said those dollars will be allocated to eligible school districts with the purpose of reducing the digital divide across Michigan's school communities.

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