Less than a week before schools closed down for the holidays, Congress passed round two of the CARES Act providing an additional $900 billion of pandemic relief. While this was about half of the first wave of funding, pre-K to 12 schools were definitely on Congress’ nice list, with approximately $54.3 billion of funding available for such schools; including $10 billion for childcare and $13 billion for nutrition.
The $54.3 billion of funding will be allocated to states and then districts according to the Title I formula based upon the number of low-income children in the district. New York State is slated to get approximately $4.1 billion of this amount. States can reserve as much as 10% for administration with the balance going to local education agencies. These funds are not expected to be linked to a school’s reopening for in-person instruction and it is anticipated that the funding will have the same flexibility as under the first wave of CARES Act funding including preparing schools for re-opening, PPE, providing technology and training, after and summer school programs, etc.
In addition, schools should also benefit from two other areas of the bill:
$22 billion has been set aside for COVID-19 testing and vaccines, some of which are expected to find their way down to school systems.
$7 billion has been set aside to provide broadband, including $3.2 billion set aside for home-based broadband, which would help low-income students by giving those households $50 per month to help defray internet costs.
The bill does not include additional E-Rate funding for schools.
Furthermore, $4 billion has been allotted for governors to spend on education at their discretion, with about $1.3 billion for public schools and higher education institutions and about $2.7 billion of this amount earmarked for private schools, particularly those serving low-income students, to help cover COVID related costs. The new law specifically prohibits using the funds to support private school vouchers or other mechanisms for spending public money on private school tuition.
$10 billion has been set aside for childcare services. This is to help pay for additional supplies and operating costs due to COVID-19 and to help subsidize the cost of childcare for some families; including essential workers and low-income families. $250 million has been set aside to help Head Start programs that serve infants, toddlers, and preschoolers from low-income families.
We expect more details and applications in the coming weeks. As information becomes available, we will keep you informed.
Adam Brigandi, CPA, MBA
Adam is a staff auditor who works with both nonprofit and special education clients. His auditing experience allows him to assist in vital audit functions such as systems testing and analysis.