The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill on May 15 that includes additional aid for K-12 schools. H.R. 6800, The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, (HEROES Act), passed 208-199.
The HEROES Act would create a $90 billion “state fiscal stabilization fund” for the U.S. Department of Education to support K-12 and higher education. About 65% of that fund—approximately $58 billion—would go through states to local school districts.
The bill would also provide $1 billion to increase state and local government budgets that have been impacted by declining tax revenues because of businesses closing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Governors have stated the necessity for this aid to support their decreased budgets and to help them avoid making steep cuts to education and other public services.
School finance experts say such cuts would disproportionately affect schools with large enrollments of low-income students, which rely more heavily on state funding. Cuts would have to be made in education, public safety and public services. The previous coronavirus relief bill under the CARES Act included a $13.5 billion education stabilization fund.
The bill’s provision of state and local funding would help address districts’ needs as schools prepare for the complicated task of reopening after the extended closures caused by the virus.
The U.S. Senate has not moved on the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has been sharply critical of it.