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CARES Act includes 
$13.5 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and $3 billion Emergency Support Grants  
Allowable Uses:
  • Providing K-12 students with Internet and technology to help students with distance learning, including adaptive equipment for students with special needs;
  • Efforts to help students from low income families, students with special needs, English learners, homeless students, students and foster care, and students of color;
  • Planning and providing in person or online summer learning programs in after-school programs.
  • Providing school meals;
  • Mental health services; and,
  • Sanitizing and cleaning school buildings.
Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund
MDE Priorities
  • Provide technology resources
  • Safety and well-being for students
  • Supports for special education students
  • Maintaining relationships
Letter from MSBA to U.S. Secretary DeVos
On behalf of Minnesota school boards, Kirk Schneidawind sent a letter to U.S. Secretary DeVos sharing our concern with her recently released non-binding guidance Providing Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools under the CARES Act Programs. He strongly urged her to revise the guidance, so it aligns with the underlying law.  
The MN Congressional delegation received a copy of the letter as well.   
 
Map of School Closures Due to COVID-19
48 states, as of May 6, have closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.


Week 14 - May 13, 2020
Federal Update
The 2020 legislative session in Minnesota is coming to a close. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a flurry of activity with relief bills in Congress. MSBA wanted to bring you a special edition of the Weekly Advocate to inform you of the latest news and ask you to have an impact by reaching out to Congress for help.

Last night, U.S. House Democrats introduced a $3 trillion bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HR 6800). Under the HEROES Act, Education receives $100 billion. It also authorizes $5 billion for the E-rate program to help with the Homework Gap, but only appropriates $1.5 billion. As of now it is unclear why there is a gap in the appropriation. Watch for further information and updates in the next Weekly Advocate.

Federal Funding on the Way  
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was passed in late March and Minnesota school districts are anxiously awaiting distribution to k-12 schools.

In the May 6 presentation to the Senate E-12 Finance and Policy Committee, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) provided an overview of the funds and the allowable uses.  In MDE's presentation, they reported there are no runs available yet and there are many approval steps before district allocations will be available for spending. It could be as long as a month, but MDE is hopeful it will not take that long.   
 
What we do know. Minnesota will receive almost $200 million in relief funding. 

*$140 million to Minnesota schools for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief.  90 percent of the funds will be distributed to school districts through a formula linked to Title 1 funding, and as such, these funds are likely to be very unevenly distributed among districts.  The range will spread from $20 million to $20,000. A district can predict they will receive 85-90% from their 2019 allocation.
 
*$43 million to the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund of which Governor Walz and his administration will use this money to make grants, at their discretion, to help K-12 schools, colleges and others that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.   
 
While this funding is appreciated and will help, it is not nearly enough to keep programming and staff levels. To give you a reference, in the 2008-09 recession, Congress stepped up with nearly $100 billion with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act   
  
Guidance on Equitable Services in Non-Public Schools
The recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education has directed school districts to provide more CARES Act aid than expected to private school students. This has caused much opposition and triggered letter writing campaigns to U.S. Secretary DeVos urging her to revise the guidance.   
 
Several national organizations believe CARES money should follow the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) statute and be distributed as FY19 Title I funds, which are set aside to provide services only for certain disadvantaged and at-risk students. The difference is worth tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to public school districts.  
  
Payroll Tax  
Just like businesses and nonprofit agencies, state and local government employees, including school districts, will be providing emergency family and medical paid leave and emergency paid sick leave. Under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act, including school districts, are expressly prohibited from the offsetting of these additional personnel costs against our employer share of social security payroll withholding payments.

As school districts are one of the largest employers in the United States collectively, we urge Congress to remove this prohibition and allow eligibility, for school districts to receive the payroll tax credits.  
 
The Supporting State and Local Leaders Act (H.R. 6643) was introduced in the House last week to extend payroll tax credits to school districts and other units of state and local government as part of coronavirus recovery efforts. Minnesota Senator Tina Smith introduced similar legislation earlier this week.  
 
Broadband Distance Learning Gap  
 The Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020, would appropriate $4 billion, administered through the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) E-Rate program, for schools and libraries to support distance learning for millions of students and teachers without home internet access.
 
The COVID-19 national emergency has struck K-12 education especially hard. Several recent national and local articles have shone a bright light on the existing 'homework gap" students are experiencing across the country as schools have closed. This inequity, among students who have Internet at home and those who don't, has kept several million students from participating in their education as it has moved online. Some schools have even decided to opt out of any online learning because of this inequity. Many states and districts are already considering expanding summer school options and planning for the possibility of interruptions to classroom teaching and learning next academic year.
 
FAQ for ESSER Funding
The U.S. Department of Education has posted the attached guidance for state education agencies and school districts, titled, "Frequently Asked Questions about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund)." Also included is a technical appendix that outlines how subgrants to school districts will be calculated.  

Areas addressed by this guidance include:
*supplement not supplant (question 20),
*Maintenance of Effort (MOE) language "program does contain a Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement [to be explained in a separate set of Frequently Asked Questions], which is designed to keep States from substantially reducing their support for K-12 education." (question 20),
*eligibility of local education agencies (question 12), and
*flexibility for school districts regarding the use of ESSER funds (question 15).

   
Action Alert 
MSBA is urging you to reach out to you
members of Congress and ask them to take action on these issues. A draft letter is available for you to utilize.  
This is an urgent request as another COVID-19 relief bill is being negotiated in Washington. During this pandemic, your responsibility and voice as a school board voice is needed now more than ever. Please sign and send the attached letter.
We have provided space for you to indicate your school district name and the amount your district received for FY19 Title I funding.

Please continue watch Twitter for updates. 
Minnesota School Boards Association | 507-934-8133 | msba@mnmsba.org
145 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55103