Rep. Castor, FL Dems to Gov. DeSantis: Expedite Distribution of Federal K-12 Emergency Funding to School Districts
Today, Florida became the last state to submit application for remaining federal K-12 aid
Today, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) led Florida Congressional Democrats in urging Governor Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to expeditiously distribute the $4.7 billion in federal COVID-19 aid to K-12 schools that they have had since March.
The state has finally submitted its application for the remainder of American Rescue Plan ESSER, some $2.5 billion in funding today, though it was due to the Department of Education on June 7. Florida is the last state in the nation to apply for these additional crucial funds. Students and public schools are in dire need of additional resources to operate safely in the pandemic, address student academic achievement, and keep teachers and other essential personnel on the job. The Members last wrote DeSantis in August inquiring on the status of the already received two-thirds in American Rescue Plan funds for public school districts.
The letter can be read below:
October 7, 2021
Governor Ron DeSantis The Honorable Richard Corcoran
State of Florida Commissioner
The Capitol Florida Department of Education
400 S. Monroe Street Turlington Building, Suite 1514
Tallahassee, FL 32399 325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
RE: Urge Expeditious Distribution of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Funds Now that State has Finally Applied for All Federal Emergency Relief
Dear Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran:
After many months of inexplicable delay by the State of Florida, we are pleased that the State of Florida has finally submitted a plan to draw down the federal emergency aid for public schools that was passed by Congress in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) seven months ago. Under ARP, Congress and President Biden provided Florida students, educators and schools $7.4 billion to support school districts’ efforts to lift Florida K-12 public schools and address gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress required that “[e]ach State shall make allocations to local educational agencies in an expedited and timely manner, and, to the extent practicable, not later than 60 days after the receipt of such funds”. Despite constant pleas from parents and educators, the State unfortunately slow-walked these dollars.
We are grateful that the U.S. Department of Education nudged the State of Florida on Monday to draw down these vital resources as Florida was the only state that had failed to apply for the remainder of the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. The delay was fiscally irresponsible and wrong. It needlessly put Florida children at a disadvantage compared to children in other states. These resources are especially important in a state that is ranked 46th in per pupil support for students.
Keeping our children and educators safe in the middle of the pandemic is paramount. The State’s misguided focus on penalizing local school board members and educators for temporary safety protocols during a pandemic also is misguided. Instead, Florida should be doing all it can to use all available resources to lift our students and educators in a myriad of beneficial ways by getting out the first 2/3 of ESSER funds to school districts.
We once again urge you to make up for lost ground. Put the health and the safety of our Florida students first and release all of our federal funds to schools today.