House taking up $130B education ‘rescue’ package

State education agencies must distribute at least 90% of the funds received to local educational agencies
By: | February 22, 2021
An employee takes a COVID test at Ashland Public Schools in Massachusetts.An employee takes a COVID test at Ashland Public Schools in Massachusetts.

The House is expected to take up the American Rescue Plan Act, the budget reconciliation package that would include nearly $130 billion in emergency funding for K-12 education, this week.

On Feb. 22, the House Budget Committee cleared the $1.9 trillion package supported by the Biden administration by a 19-16 vote.

The bill will next go through the Rules Committee, and then onto the House floor for debate sometime later this week, according to Capitol Hill watchers, with House Democratic leadership anticipating passage before March 1. The Senate would then take up the measure.

The Budget committee released the legislative text of the bill on Feb. 19. “This reconciliation bill is the next step toward implementing the American Rescue Plan and finally changing the direction of these crises,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth in a statement.

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According to a report released by the committee on Feb. 19, the education portion of the bill “provides critical funding to help K-12 schools safely reopen and address lost time in the classroom, as well as provisions to increase workers’ income by raising the federal minimum wage and expanding grants to make childcare safer and more affordable for families.”

The legislative text to be considered by the House Budget Committee would provide nearly $130 billion in funding for K-12 schools to state educational agencies “in accordance with the same terms and conditions that apply to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the Education Stabilization Fund.”

However, the bill specifies some changes from the CARES Act ESSER funding conditions. They include:

  • State education agencies that receive funds must distribute at least 90% of the funds received to local educational agencies for services. SEAs must also reserve at least 5 percent of funds for “evidence-based activities” to address learning loss, which could include summer learning programs, “extended day comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs.”
  • LEAs that receive funding from SEAs must reserve at least 20 percent of funds to address learning loss through the same methods as those allowable at the SEA level. LEAs must also reserve funds to provide equitable services for non-public schools “in the same manner as provided under Section 1117 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.