Kansas schools to receive $1 billion for COVID relief
With passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, Kansas public schools should receive approximately $1 billion to address COVID-19 related expenses, such as learning loss, according to a news release from the Kansas Association of School Boards.
The new bill — called the American Rescue Act — nearly $123 billion to K-12 schools. President Joe Biden is scheduled to sign it into law last Friday.
Kansas’ share of the legislation will be about $600 million. Combined with early coronavirus packages, Kansas will receive about $1 billion in federal assistance under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSR).
In response to the bill’s passage, Anna Maria Chavez, executive director and CEO of the National School Board Association, issued the following statement:
“COVID-19 has been a tsunami-sized challenge for our nation. It has widened achievement and opportunity gaps as students facing the greatest challenges have been left behind. It has spotlighted a remote learning gap for the millions of students who lack internet access in their homes.
“When a tsunami finally recedes, that’s when you see the real destruction. In our case, we won’t be confronted with destroyed buildings and landscapes. We’ll be confronted with learning loss, trauma, socio-emotional needs, and lives forever changed.
“The American Rescue Plan will provide much needed support and resources to help the nation’s schools and students get through the COVID tsunami and begin addressing the damage left in its wake.
“In my conversations with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and his excellent team, I’ve communicated that the National School Boards Association is committed to working with him and U.S. Department of Education staff to ensure that these funds make their way to states and school districts as soon as possible.”
In Kansas, Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson has formed a task force that will provide oversight and guidance for the expenditure of the federal funds, which also includes dollars for private schools.
The funds must be spent over the next several years on pandemic-related expenses. The 19-member task force meets every Friday.
Other parts of the American Rescue Act that will affect education, include:
-- $40 billion for postsecondary institutions and students.
-- $40 billion for child care.
-- $7.2 billion to help connect students and teachers to broadband.
-- $3 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
In addition to the new funding for schools, the American Rescue Act:
— Extends a $300 per week jobless aid supplement and programs making millions more people eligible for unemployment insurance until Sept. 6.
— Sends $1,400 direct payments to most Americans and their dependents. The checks start to phase out at $75,000 in income for individuals and are capped at people who make $80,000. The thresholds for joint filers are double those limits.
— Expands the child tax credit for one year. It will increase to $3,600 for children under 6 and to $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17.
— Puts about $20 billion into Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing and distribution, along with roughly $50 billion into testing and contact tracing.
— Adds $25 billion in rental and utility assistance and about $10 billion for mortgage aid.
— Offers $362 billion in relief to state, local and tribal governments.
— Increases the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit by 15 percent through September.