The MSBA Weekly Advocate
Legislative news school boards need to know
Action Alert and Special Session Results
ACTION ALERT: COVID-19 Recovery Package
Members of Congress are working on the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020.

The supplemental consists of two parts: assistance for education, online learning, vaccinations, etc. (Part 1), and $160 billion in assistance to state and local governments and liability protections that are still being negotiated (Part 2). Senators stated that the $160 billion in state and local aid will be considered only if there is agreement on liability protections provisions.

$82B for education, broadly
•$54B dedicated to K-12
•$20B dedicated to Higher Ed
•$7.5B for Governor’s fund
•Targeted aid for private and parochial schools, minority serving institutions, territories and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)
$10B for broadband
•$6B for connectivity and deployment
•$3B for educational connectivity and distance learning

Sample Letter/ Talking Points (Please edit accordingly.)
Dear Senator/ Representative _________:
As a school board member of the _______________ School District, I appreciate your efforts to negotiate the next COVID-19 recovery package for our school district and community. As we work to implement greater safeguards for our students, faculty and staff, and other stakeholders,

amid increases in infection rates that are occurring in numerous communities, your leadership to address critical needs for health and safety is crucial.
Specifically, I urge your strong support to address the following priorities within the next emergency supplemental for COVID-19 recovery. The success of our students and school district, and the ability of our entire community, to recover from the deleterious effects of this massive pandemic are impacted by the federal-state-local support and resources provided.

Seventh Special Session Brings $216 Million Relief Package
The economic relief bill that will bring an extension of unemployment benefits to applicants who have exhausted all available state and federal unemployment benefits had been negotiated and agreed to by the four legislative leaders before it hit the floors, but that didn't mean there wasn't significant discussion during Tuesday's seventh special session.

The two authors, Rep. Tim Mahoney and Sen. Eric Pratt, SSHF45/SSSF31 spoke passionately about the bill and the good that would come from it.

Important to school districts is a provision that was included thanks to Rep. Jim Davnie and Sen. Carla Nelson to extend the free or reduced priced lunch application deadline from Dec. 15, 2020 to Jan. 4, 2021.

Districts have until this time to report to the Education Department the number of children eligible to receive free or reduced-price school lunch. This is the count that is used to determine the level of compensatory revenue school districts will receive for the 2021-22 school year. Many families have not completed the required forms for various reasons, leaving school districts concerned about the funding associated with the applications. The extension allows time for districts to reach out to families and encourage them to complete the forms.

An overview of the other components of the relief bill include:

  • $114.8 million for counties to make grants to eligible struggling businesses and nonprofits. Each county would receive the greater of $200,000 or a per capita amount based on its 2019 population;
  • $88 million to businesses that have seen at least a 30 percent decline and that provide on-site food and beverages; including bars, restaurants, breweries and wineries; bowling alleys; and fitness or sports recreation centers. Payments would be $10,000-$45,000 based on the number of employees; and
  • $14 million for movie theaters and multipurpose convention centers with a capacity of at least 1,500 people. A per screen formula would be used to help movie theaters and several factors would be considered for convention center allocations. Convention center awards would need to be used for direct operations and facility upkeep.

The House finally voted late in the evening and passed the bill on a 117-13 House vote. The Senate had passed the bill 62-4 a few hours prior. Now all that is needed is Governor Walz's signature.

We wish you a very happy holiday season!
Denise and Kim