The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27th, gave an unprecedented $2 trillion economic relief to individuals, businesses, and states. $30.75 billion of that money went to the Education Stabilization Fund to assist early learning, K-12, and post-secondary institutions and students deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The US Department of Education will distribute those funds through three programs: the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Education Relief Fund (SEER), and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
This fund has $3 billion of the education money and Governors must apply to the U.S. Department of Education to participate in this program. Each state’s share of the funding is based on a formula that factors in the state’s overall population and the number of K-12 students. Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Richard Corcoran have not stated how they will disburse this funding and currently, there is no clear application process. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Florida will receive $171.5 million in GEER funding.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
The U.S. Secretary of Education will disburse this funding that totals $13.5 billion. The funding is largely based on the state’s proportional share of funding under Title 1, the federal government’s primary funding program for high poverty schools, for the most recent fiscal year. Florida will receive $724.4 million from this fund. States must submit an application to the U.S. Department of Education to participate. At least 90% of the funding must be allocated to school districts but the state has discretion over the remaining 10%. The money may be used for all activities authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and other key federal laws that govern education.
As the processes for applications and disbursements develop, we will keep you informed. We must ensure that Florida’s public schools receive the emergency dollars they deserve.