U.S. Secretary of Education releases $13B in emergency funds

Betsy DeVos - Duke - UNC - Middle Eastern Studies Consortium - Title VI
FILE - In this April 10, 2019 file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies before the House Education and Labor Committee at a hearing on 'Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education' on Capitol Hill in Washington. The U.S. Department of Education will investigate a Middle East studies conference held by the University of North Carolina and partially funded by federal grant money, after a legislator says reports of anti-Semitic rhetoric emerged. News outlets report the conference, “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” was co-sponsored by Duke University and UNC. DeVos said the department would investigate whether the event complied with requirements. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on April 23 that over $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds are now available to state and local education agencies to use for continued learning purposes in K-12.

The Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund is to be used for immediate needs to conduct distance or remote education. The ESSER funds can also be used for student health and safety, and for the development and implementation of education logistics and plans for the 2020-21 school year.

The funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

North Carolina’s allotment of the funds is over $396 million. The minimum local education agency distribution represents the bulk of the total amount at $356,680,446. State education agencies in North Carolina may reserve a maximum of over $39.6 million and a maximum for administration uses of over $1.9 million.

ESSER Fund allocations to the states were determined by the fiscal year 2019 State shares of Title I, Part A allocations without the application of the hold harmless provisions in ESEA section 1122.

“This national emergency continues to shine a light on the need for all schools to be more agile,” said DeVos in a press release. “Now is the time to truly rethink education and to get creative about how we meet each student’s unique needs.”

Education leaders will have the flexibility to use funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund for immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety, and developing and implementing plans for the next school year.

“The funding made available today has very few bureaucratic strings attached and empowers local education leaders to do just that,” Devos said. “I encourage them to focus on investing in the technology, distance learning resources, training and long-term planning that will help education continue for both teachers and students, no matter where learning takes place.”

The U.S. Department of Education maintains updates and information for school leaders, students and parents at: ed.gov/coronavirus

About A.P. Dillon 281 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_