Next Steps for Federal Stimulus Dollars and Delaware Schools

May 12th, 2021

Category: News

At a Glance...

-The federal government has provided three different stimulus packages in the last calendar year to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
-Delaware K-12 schools received $183 million in December, and are expected to receive $411 million from the federal stimulus package passed in March.
-Delaware will utilize funding from December to act on its Accelerated Learning Plan.
-Two-thirds (approximately $274 million) of Delaware’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act’s dollars were released to the state in March. Now Delaware’s Department of Education and local education agencies (LEAs)—districts and charter schools—must submit plans on how they plan to spend it.

Back in March, we wrote about how the federal stimulus dollars, specifically those provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, would impact Delaware’s schools. Since then, there have been updates at both the state and federal level regarding required plans and timing of allocations.

The federal government has provided three different stimulus packages in the last calendar year, each including more money for K-12 education than the next to combat the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the money provided for K-12 education, each stimulus package included dollars in areas of education such as early learning and higher education. States have also received stimulus funds at the state and local level, some of which is accessible to leverage for education.

March 2020 (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund)
December 2020 (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act)
March 2021 (American Rescue Plan Act)
Delaware K-12 Allocation $43 million $183 million $411 million

Last Wednesday, Governor John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting publicly announced the state’s Accelerated Learning Plan, which will utilize federal stimulus dollars from December. The plan outlines how the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) will support Local Education Agencies (LEAs) —i.e., school districts and charter schools—to address the unfinished learning brought on by the pandemic. The plan includes four focus areas:

  • Support the Use of High-Quality Instructional Materials: Access to high quality instructional materials such as Zearn Math and Summer Booster Literacy.
  • Support Training and Professional Learning: Professional learning to support learning acceleration for educators and those working in nonprofit, summer and after-school programs.
  • Support Leveraging Data to Diagnose Unfinished Learning: Support schools to assess and leverage data that supports educators in diagnosing unfinished learning.
  • Support Structures to Accelerate Learning: Starting this summer, high-dosage tutoring will be available, with a focus on students who need the most support.

 

Implementation of the plan is set to start this summer. While LEAs are not required to take part in the plan, Sec. Bunting shared at a recent State Board of Education meeting that all 19 school districts and 21 out of the 23 charters have signed on for at least a part of the supports and resources offered in the plan. LEAs are in the process of cementing their own local plans using the funds they received from the second stimulus package passed in December.

The DDOE will host a Facebook Live event on May 13 at 6 p.m. to provide families with an overview of the plan. Links to the livestream can be accessed here. For any feedback or questions, email stakeholder.feedback@doe.k12.de.us.

What about the American Rescue Plan Act dollars?

Delaware’s Accelerated Learning Plan outlines how the state plans to use the stimulus dollars from December. But with the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March, more money is headed to Delaware—a lot more money. In fact, two-thirds (approximately $274 million) of Delaware’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act’s dollars were released to the state on March 24, 2021. The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) has 60 days to release the funds to school districts and charters. Find the department’s estimates on district and charter allocations here.

In April, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) announced that all state education agencies are required to submit plans on how they intend to spend the American Rescue Plan Act dollars. This means that in order for the remaining funds to be released to Delaware, a plan must be submitted by DDOE and approved by the USDOE. The USDOE has released a template that departments of education can use. All states must submit their plan to USDOE by early June.

Additionally, LEAs are required to create a series of plans. One must detail the LEA’s plans for reopening and the second must outline how each LEA plans to spend their dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. Return to school plans, as required by the American Rescue Plan Act, must be published within 30 days of the LEA receiving their federal stimulus dollars. LEA plans on how they plan to spend their ARPA allocation must be submitted to the Delaware Department of Education within 90 days of LEAs receiving their ARPA funds.

The U.S. Department of Education is also requiring states and LEAs to seek input from a wide variety of stakeholders on plans for spending ARPA funds. DDOE announced it will be engaging stakeholders to gather input, but details have yet to be released on how or when.

As we move forward, we’ll work to share answers to the questions we’re hearing from the field:

  • What will the processes be for parents and the community to weigh in on state and local plans?
  • Similar to what the USDOE is requiring of state plans, will the plans developed by LEAs need to be reviewed and approved by the state in order to get their remaining 33 percent of funds?
  • How will the general public be able to track where this $1.4 billion dollars goes over time and how will the impact of these investments be measured and shared?

Resources for More Information

Author:
Kelsey Mensch

KMensch@rodelde.org

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