Education funding streams in CARES Act provide wealth of spending options

$16.2 billion in funding for emergency education relief to be administered by the U.S. Education Department
By: | March 31, 2020
Photo from gettyimages.com: SiberianArtPhoto from gettyimages.com: SiberianArt

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, H.R.748, which was signed by President Trump into law on March 27, includes new funding opportunities for state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the measure includes nearly $16.2 billion in new funding for two emergency education relief funds to be administered by the U.S. Education Department. The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund would receive $2.95 billion, while the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund would receive $13.23 billion.
The CARES Act requires the Education secretary to make applications for both funding streams available “no later than 30 days after enactment” of the law, and applications must be approved or denied within 30 days of receipt of the application.

The programs differ, however, in the manner in which the grants are awarded and the allowable uses of funds. Following are details of the new emergency relief funds.

Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (CARES Act Section 18002)

The U.S. Education Department will allocate funds to state educational agencies that have been approved to receive these grants based on a formula that would award 60 percent of funds based on the age 5-24 population in the state, and 40 percent of funds based on the number of eligible children as determined under ESEA Section 1124(c).

SEAs may use grants awarded under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to:

  • Provide emergency support to local educational agencies that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 to continue to provide educational services to students as well as support the LEA’s ongoing functionality. CARES Act Section 18002(c)(1).
  • Provide emergency support to institutions of higher education that provide services to students significantly affected by COVID-19. CARES Act Section 18002(c)(2).
  • Provide support to any education-related entities deemed essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students for activities that are authorized under the ESEA, IDEA, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, and McKinney-Vento. CARES Act Section 18002(c)(3).
  • Provide support to any education-related entities deemed essential for providing child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support, and the protection of education-related jobs. CARES Act Section 18002(c)(3).

Funds not awarded by the governor within one year of the award must be returned to ED for reallocation. CARES Act Section 18002(d).

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (CARES Act Section 18003)

ED will allocate funds to SEAs in the same proportion that ESEA Title I, Part A funds were awarded for the most recent fiscal year. SEAs must allocate no less than 90 percent of awarded funds to LEAs, in the same proportion as Title I, Part A allocations for LEAs for the most recent fiscal year.

An SEA can reserve no more than half of 1 percent of funds not awarded to LEAs for administrative costs, with the remainder to be used for emergency needs that arise because of COVID-19. CARES Act Section 18003(e).

  • LEAs may use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds for:
  • Any activities that are authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, IDEA, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Adult Education and
  • Family Literacy Act, and McKinney-Vento. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(1).
  • Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of LEAs with state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(2).
  • Providing resources for principals and others school leaders to address school-specific needs. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(3).
  • Activities that address unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youths, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(4).
  • Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(5).
  • Training and professional development for LEA staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(6).
  • Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean facilities operated by an LEA. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(7).
  • Planning and coordination during long-term closures, including how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide online learning technology to all students, how to provide guidance on meeting IDEA requirements, and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with federal, state, and local requirements. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(8).
  • Purchasing educational technology, which could include hardware, software, and connectivity, for students served by the LEA that aids in regular, substantive educational interaction between students and educators, including low-income students and students with disabilities. This could also include assistive technology or adaptive equipment. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(9).
  • Providing mental health services and supports. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(10).
  • Planning and implementing summer learning and supplemental afterschool program activities, 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. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(11).
  • Other activities necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in LEAs and continuing to employ existing staff. CARES Act Section 18003(d)(12).
  • Funds not awarded by the governor within one year of the award must be returned to ED for reallocation. CARES Act Section 18002(f).

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications, publisher of DA.