Local schools, which in late fall were horrified by the possibility of massive cuts in their state aid, now will get a significant infusion of new federal aid to help get students back in their classrooms.
According to the office of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, local districts will receive the following sums:
· Chester: $901,000,000
· Florida: $706,000,000
· Goshen: $2,183,000
· Greenwood Lake: $585,000
· Kiryas Joel: $60,346,000
· Monroe-Woodbury: $7,490,000
· Tuxedo: $204,000
· Warwick Valley: 2,210,000
Statewide, approximately $9 billion will be distributed to New York schools. The money, part of the recently adopted $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, will be divvied up using the Title I federal aid formula that puts great weight on the number of students living in poverty. In addition to public school students, districts must provide support services to eligible students in private schools.
The law requires that 20 percent of the new federal funds finance programs that address the “learning loss” of children who received lessons at home, if at all.
Beyond that, the law gives educators considerable flexibility in using their awards to support reopening. They can, for example, avoid layoffs and hire additional personnel; schedule additional summer, after-hour and enrichment programs; improve opportunities for low-income students; upgrade Internet access; repair ventilation in old schools; obtain additional space to allow social distancing in classroom and purchase equipment such as plexiglass shields, masks and sanitizer.
Develop a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction within a month
Schools that receive funds must, within 30 days, make available on their websites a plan that incorporates public comment for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services.
It is unclear how much of the money would be used for the 2021-22 school year and how much would be used in succeeding years. Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators face a deadline for adoption of the state budget.
“We will work with the Legislature to determine how these funds will be applied in the budget and to minimize out-year gaps ahead of the April 1 (state budget) deadline,” said Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for the state Division of the Budget.
Educators argue that the federal stimulus aid should supplement rather than replace state school aid.
Brian Fessler, director of governmental relations for the state School Boards Association, wrote on the organization’s website:
“In late fall 2020, school districts were bracing for the possibility of billions of dollars in state aid cuts. But after two federal stimulus packages that included billions of dollars in new education funding, some of largest education funding increases in years are possible.”
- Jeff Storey