Federal support is needed to ensure school safety, as well as protect public health, stimulate the economy, coordinate and support vaccine distribution, and help prevent tax increases. Our recovery is fragile and NGA urges Congress to consider the needs of states and territories as it deliberates on an additional COVID supplemental bill.
Susie Perez Quinn | Director, Government Relations
Governors are battling the effects of the coronavirus on all fronts: protecting and supporting public health, assisting those struggling with unemployment, and working to ensure every student has access to education. Even as states and territories must spend more money to meet these challenges, pandemic-related revenue losses are creating substantial obstacles and uncertainty to effective budgeting.
The passage of the CARES Act prevented an unprecedented economic collapse in the early days of the pandemic and provided much needed support for our schools and their students. States, territories and certain localities received $150 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds that were immediately put to use to ensure the continuation of vital public services and public health measures. While this aid was extremely helpful and states worked quickly and responsibly to expend it, more support is needed to prevent additional hurdles for schools and students. Here are five examples of the effective stewardship shown by Governors using federal assistance in support of education:
In June, Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona announced the “Flexibility and Funding for Schools and Families” program. This was a massive $850 million investment designed to give schools the resources necessary to reopen safely.
In July, Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota worked with the state legislature to allocate $44.5 million for virtual simulators, classroom and facility restructuring, technology needs, telework equipment and software, and instructional resources.
Oklahoma used $16 million of its CRF allocation to offer grants to school districts. Governor Kevin Stitt also used state dollars to offer $8 million in additional grant opportunities to school districts. Gov. Stitt announced $30 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund fund will go toward funding three new education initiatives – Learn Anywhere Oklahoma, Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet and Stay in School Funds.
“These programs will allow for students and families of diverse backgrounds to access the quality resources they need in order to continue their education journey amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These are unprecedented times, but we can’t let our kids fall further behind academically. They are our priority, and we will do everything we can to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed in their academic endeavors.”Governor Stitt
Governor Tim Walz is making $430 million available to school districts and charter schools in Minnesota for the 2020-21 school year. These funds can be used to cover operational costs (e.g., cleaning and screen supplies, technology, Wi-Fi, and mental health supports) and support to boost student, family, and educator support, such as digital training, tutors, translation services, and professional development.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced $81 Million in Coronavirus Relief Fund grants for K-12 and higher education institutions
“Reopening our schools, colleges and universities is a key priority and grant funding ensures institutions can make proper accommodations to keep educators and students safe as we continue to fight COVID-19. This first wave of funding provides for technology and distance learning supports as well as measures to improve social distancing.”Governor Lee
Assistance from the federal government has helped preserve vital education services but today many of these federal benefits have expired or will soon. Federal support is needed to ensure school safety, as well as protect public health, stimulate the economy, coordinate and support vaccine distribution, and help prevent tax increases. Our recovery is fragile and Congress should not adjourn until it passes another COVID supplemental bill.