President Donald Trump signed a COVID relief package on Dec. 27 that would provide widespread economic aid, including more financial support for schools. Congress passed the measure Dec. 21 as part of a broader bill to fund the federal government.
“The COVID relief bill represents a welcome first step,” said NJSBA Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod. “The aid will be greatly appreciated but we remain concerned that more assistance will be necessary to help districts face, and effectively address, the enormous and ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic.”
The $900 billion relief package includes $600 stimulus checks, small business relief, unemployment benefits, and support for vaccine distribution. This measure provides about $82 billion for education. That includes:
- $54.3 billion for K-12 schools, largely delivered through Title I funding. That’s about four times what schools received in the CARES Act approved in March.
- $22.7 billion for higher education with $1.7 billion set aside for minority-serving institutions and close to $1 billion for for-profit colleges
- $4 billion for governors to spend at their discretion, with $2.7 billion of that for private schools.
The $54 billion will be allocated to states and then to districts according to the Title I formula based on numbers of low-income children. The money will not be tied to schools’ reopening for in-person instruction, and districts will have the same flexibility as under the CARES Act to use the money. These uses will include funds to help schools prepare for reopening — including the purchase of personal protective equipment and better ventilation systems. The money will pay for computers and internet connections, teacher training and summer school.
The legislation will also give school districts a year’s extension, until Dec. 31, 2021 to spend funding from the earlier Coronavirus Relief Fund, part of the CARES Act.
The new funding also includes about $10 billion for childcare and $13 billion for nutrition programs.
The NJSBA will continue to update its members as further details become available.