You’ve made it to the end (almost) of one of the most, if not the most, challenging years of our lives. To the teachers, principals, coaches, and other educators reading this post, I am grateful for you and I thank you for rising above one of the most difficult situations that educators have ever faced. All of you are superstars!
In case you missed it, President Biden and Congress passed the American Recovery Act stimulus bill. There is one section of the bill that is particularly important to you and me and that is the federal funding for educators. While these bills tend to be overly complicated, have no fear. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about these funds and how to spend them!
As we all know, students were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have missed learning key concepts and skills that are necessary for success in the next grade level. In order to address this “unfinished learning”, teachers must have effective, flexible resources to use, and those resources cost money. Enter the stimulus bill. The ARA bill is the largest in history, and it allocates an unprecedented amount of money to school districts across the country. How much you ask? $170 BILLION dollars has been set aside for education with a whopping $126 BILLION for K–12 education specifically. You and I can’t even wrap our heads around how much money that is, so let’s just agree that it’s a lot! There are some guidelines, and school districts do need to meet certain criteria to utilize these funds. However, it’s safe to say, this money will have a huge impact on our students.
- How will the funds be distributed?
90% of the funds will be distributed directly to school districts using the Title 1 Formula. On average, school districts should expect to see about $2,500 per student in funding.
- What are the criteria for spending the funds?
School districts will have to do two things before spending the funds. The first is to develop a comprehensive plan for reopening schools in person. Since many schools are already open, they likely already have a plan or partial plan in place. The other guideline is that schools must spend 20% on resources that will be used to address the learning loss students have as a result of the pandemic.
- Can districts buy anything they want with the funding once the criteria are met?
While there will be a great deal of flexibility in what districts choose to buy with this funding, there are certain parameters in place to help them choose resources.
School districts can buy resources to address any of the following:
- Summer Learning
- Remediation, Differentiation, and Intervention Resources
- Cleaning Supplies
- Mental Health
- Resources Promoting Access and Equity
- What is the deadline for spending funds?
The spending deadline for these funds is October of 2024, which gives schools three years to meet the criteria and utilize the funding before it expires.
Now that you know the key aspects of the ARA bill, I want to share a link to a website where you can see exactly how much money your state is getting. Click the link below to access the state funding tool. I’ve included an example for Illinois (where I reside) so you can see what kind of information this tool provides.