Florida is only state not to submit school Covid-19 relief funding plan, US Education Department says

The US Education Department sent a letter to Florida Training Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday inquiring about the position of the state’s program and underscoring it is necessary to unlock extra than $2.3 billion in remaining American Rescue Program resources.

“The U.S. Department of Schooling (Division) has now obtained an ARP ESSER Point out plan from 51 of 52 Condition academic agencies (SEAs), with the exception of the Florida Department of Schooling,” wrote Ian Rosenblum, the acting assistant secretary for the agency’s Office environment of Elementary and Secondary Schooling.

The Florida Schooling Department’s “failure to satisfy its tasks is delaying the release of essential ARP ESSER resources that are necessary by university districts and universities to deal with the desires of students most impacted by the pandemic,” Rosenblum famous in the letter.

The letter will come as the Biden administration and Gov. Ron DeSantis have sparred on Covid-19 and other key troubles on the nationwide political phase. The Republican governor has taken a difficult stance versus statewide university mask mandates, as faculties across the country grapple with how to offer safe and sound, in-human being instruction for all college students even though family members await vaccine acceptance for little ones below 12.
The US Instruction Department just lately repaid a group of Florida university board members whose salaries experienced been withheld for applying mask mandates in defiance of the governor’s govt get that moms and dads, not school officials, choose how to safeguard their youngsters in the pandemic. And previous month, the department’s civil legal rights enforcement arm mentioned it was opening an investigation into whether or not the Florida Education Office “may well be avoiding university districts in the point out from taking into consideration or conference the needs of pupils with disabilities” with the mask mandate ban.
In an energy to help states reopen universities safely and securely during the pandemic, the Biden administration earlier this yr announced the allocation of additional than $122 billion in Covid aid for pre-K to 12 educational facilities, with two-thirds of these cash — totaling $81 billion — “manufactured obtainable to states immediately.” The remaining federal pounds are contingent on the acceptance of a condition system detailing how the resources will be made use of, the US Schooling Division reported.

Florida was allocated more than $7 billion as aspect of that funding to assist “students’ health and fitness and security and handle their social, psychological, psychological wellbeing, and academic needs in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rosenblum mentioned, and two-thirds of that allocation was introduced in March.

But the remaining third, totaling a lot more than $2.3 billion, has not nonetheless been released since Florida failed to satisfy a June deadline for submitting its state system, the letter stated. The point out also missed “July and August submission timelines that were being predicted following discussions with your employees,” Rosenblum wrote to Corcoran.

In a statement to CNN on Monday, the Florida governor’s business office reported that “at this time, no district has articulated a will need for funding that are not able to be fulfilled with at this time obtainable resources. Every time this could change in the long run, the condition of Florida will coordinate with USDOE to ensure Florida students and educators have all the resources they need to have.”

Monday’s letter also pointed out that Florida’s Education Division has drawn down some of the American Rescue Approach cash at the point out stage but has not nevertheless awarded funds to community organizations.

“We recognize that FDOE acknowledges the need to have for the vital means that the ARP Act provides, as demonstrated by FDOE’s attract-down of extra than $177 million in ARP ESSER money to day for use at the Point out level. Yet we have read consistently from dad and mom, teachers, and superintendents from college districts in Florida that FDOE has not nevertheless awarded ARP ESSER funds to area academic companies,” wrote Rosenblum.

“FDOE’s delay raises sizeable issues mainly because of the unwanted uncertainty it is generating for college districts across the State and simply because it is hindering their means to confidently program for how to use these resources to handle the desires of college students,” the section formal additional.

Rosenblum pledged in the letter that the US Education Department “remains ready to give any help” that Florida officials may possibly need to have to advance a condition prepare.