Priorities include Learning Loss Mitigation, Mental and Physical Health
Earlier this week, the Miami-Dade County School Board held a workshop to discuss the preliminary plan for how to allocate the federal stimulus funds being provided to the District through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act.
The CRRSA Act, and subsequent ARP Act, authorized a second and third round of emergency COVID-19 relief to schools across the nation through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER), referred to as ESSER II and ESSER III respectively. The ARP ESSER Fund (or ESSER III) allocates $122 billion to states and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students.
The estimated funding to Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) is $1,189,951,575, $366,633,644 from ESSER II and $823,317,931 from ARP ESSER. The funds can only be used on allowable expenses determined by the Acts. The development of the M-DCPS 2021-2026 Strategic Plan helped prioritize the spending of stimulus funds, as all initiatives in which the District invests must be tied to a priority in the new Strategic Plan, Infinite Possibilities. There are sixteen assurances in the ARP and CRRSA under which expenditures are eligible. The District bucketed those assurance into four categories: Accelerate Learning, Mental and Physical Health, Prepare for and Avoid Potential Future Closures and Maintain Operations & Retain Staff.
Since the Great Recession, M-DCPS has relied on four guiding principles when it comes to budgeting – improve student achievement, protect the classroom, protect the workforce and maintain the fiscal viability of the District. In 2020 the District added a fifth: ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. These principles are integrated throughout this spending plan.
As a school system that values and prioritizes equity, funds will be going where the need is greatest in our schools; 93 percent of the $1.2B ESSER investment will be allocated directly or indirectly to schools to impact student outcomes.
To accelerate learning for all students, investments are being made in many areas including personnel, technology, and additional academic supports for all grade levels to maximize student academic recovery and minimize the impact on their social-emotional well-being due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other proposed investments aim to maintain operations, avoid potential future closures and protect the District’s highly qualified workforce. Additionally, M-DCPS will continue to create environmental conditions that make it safe for our students and workforce to return to our schoolhouses.
The stimulus funds M-DCPS received will constitute the primary source of investments for M-DCPS over the next few years and will be carried out in phases. The District will be overly cautious on the expenditures to ensure that the funding is correctly utilized under the outlined guidelines and to avoid Unallowable Expenses, which include items such as meals, advertisements, purchases of vehicles or facilities, clothing or uniforms, as well as ensuring the sustainability of investments to continue its long trend of good stewardship of tax-payer funds.
Initiatives, such as Summer School, are already being implemented. M-DCPS will be spacing out the projects over the next three years and will keep the public informed on how the funds are being spent.
Prior to the final adoption of the spending plans, the District will engage in meaningful two-way communication with stakeholders. Additional details will be announced at a later time. To review the plan presented at the Board workshop, click here.
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