On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP).
According to U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, New Jersey schools can expect to receive $2.76 billion from the rescue plan to safely reopen K-12 schools, upgrade ventilation systems, reduce class size, implement social distancing, purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), hire more staff and avoid teacher layoffs. Of this:
- $138.2 million will be reserved to address learning loss;
- $27.6 million will be reserved for summer enrichment; and
- $27.6 million will be reserved for afterschool programs.
First lady Dr. Jill Biden came to a South Jersey elementary school on March 15 to kick off a nationwide “Help is Here” tour touting the impacts of the new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. President Joe Biden and the first lady are traveling across the country on a public relations blitz to celebrate passage of the major legislation signed into law last week. President Biden is coming to Delaware County on Tuesday.
Jill Biden toured Samuel Smith Elementary in Burlington City, a Burlington County public school with 260 students in pre-K through second grade, about 57% of whom are economically disadvantaged. The school is about 35 miles from Hammonton, where Biden was born and spent her early childhood. The Philadelphia Inquirer covered the First Lady’s visit; the article can be found here.
Nationally, the rescue plan provides $122.78 billion in additional aid for the K-12 community via the existing Elementary and Secondary Education Relief (ESSER) Fund—approximately $6 billion less than proposed by the House.
The final version of the ARP redirects some of these funds towards other education programs, including the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which will now receive an additional $3 billion in aid from this measure. The final enacted version of the legislation requires that 90% of ESSER funds be distributed to local school districts and that 20% of these funds be used to address learning loss.
Funds will also be set aside for evidence-based summer school and afterschool programs.
The final bill includes a number of other investments that will benefit the K-12 education community in other important ways. For instance, the ARP includes $7.172 billion in additional funding for the E-Rate program to allow eligible schools and libraries to use these funds to purchase qualifying technology. The Federal Communications Commission will develop new rules within the next 60 days to help implement this effort aimed at closing the digital divide and related homework gap.
The ARP also includes nearly $40 billon for childcare and early childhood learning. Yet, one of the largest investments made by the new law will be in state and local governments, with the measure providing $360 billion in aid to help states, cities, and local governments recover from the pandemic. This investment is likely to have a beneficial indirect impact on K-12 schools, which derive a majority of funding from these entities. New Jersey will receive approximately $6.434 billion plus another $189 million to expand broadband internet across the state. An additional $1.823 billion will be split among the 21 county governments and $1.741 billion divided among all 565 cities and municipalities.