As lawmakers assess how to split a huge amount of COVID-19 aid funds, Massachusetts K-12 school districts have only used a fraction of the federal dollars they received, the K-12 said on Friday. State Secretary of Education.
K-12 schools have received more than $ 2.9 billion in the three major stimulus packages approved so far, most of which have passed through the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Assistance Fund, or ESSER. , then to districts according to a formula, said Education Secretary James Peyser. legislators.
“So far, less than 10 percent of those formula funds have actually been collected by school districts, a lot of those resources remain and can certainly be used during this school year and beyond,” said Peyser. .
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His comments came during a legislative hearing Friday to consider how to spend the estimated $ 4.8 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding that the state government still has. Any additional money the legislature chooses to direct to K-12 schools will complement an already strong pot.
School infrastructure is an emerging focus, with many advocates and lawmakers calling on Friday to use the state’s ARPA funding to modernize school buildings and preschool education facilities.
“Investing in infrastructure construction is a one-time investment that does not increase the state’s operating budget, responds directly to the pandemic and can have an immediate and transformative impact on our school and college buildings, especially if these funds can prioritize Gateway Cities, low-income communities, black and brown communities and universities, ”said Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
Peyser said some virus-related expenses, such as ventilation upgrades, might be eligible to receive ARPA dollars from the state, but “the construction of a whole new building” might not qualify.