Deadline Alert Michigan Schools Must Act Fast with Federal Stimulus Funds

The federal COVID-19 emergency financing for Michigan’s public schools is worth billions of dollars, but if it isn’t used by the end of September, the schools may lose some of it.

A stimulus package that poured money into localities to cope with COVID-19-related economic issues was enacted into law by President Joe Biden in 2021. Funding for educational institutions and agencies was part of the American Rescue Plan.

In 2021, Michigan was awarded about $3.7 billion in funding for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)—a sum that was added to earlier, lesser stimulus cheques.

Federal monies totaling more than $5.6 billion are available for use by the state in educational initiatives. By September 30, 2021, funds for a particular project must be assigned to state education authorities or schools.

A press release from the Michigan League for Public Policy, however, suggests that certain districts and agencies in Michigan might be in jeopardy of missing that deadline and forfeiting the funds.

According to a dashboard maintained by the Michigan Department of Education (DOE), schools still owe the entire $740.4 million. Millions of dollars are likely still available for claims in the coming months, even though some schools may have already used their allotted funds without getting reimbursed.

The majority of this funding was given to public and charter schools, which are local educational institutions. Federally funded public schools are supposed to address inequality that was made worse during this time as well as the “learning loss” brought on by the pandemic.

This might take the form of more summer or after-school activities for students, something advocates for education have stated is much needed.

Further health and education-related initiatives, such as technology for work-from-home or classroom usage, hiring more employees, better air quality, and mental health services, can be funded with additional ESSER funds.

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Dealing with ongoing problems

Since schools will only receive the funds once, it might be challenging for them to come up with projects for the one-time payments, according to Anne Kuhnen, the Kids Count policy director for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

For instance, a district would have to use its own budget moving forward because the federal monies are not recurrent if it hired a mental health professional and paid for their first year’s pay with the stimulus check.

Learning difficulties were not unique to Michigan children during the pandemic. An updated assessment from the Annie E. Casey Foundation claims that students in grade school are not as adept in reading and math as they were before to the pandemic in 2019.

Michigan’s education ranking fell in the same study for the first time in thirty-five years. For the 2021–22 academic year, Michigan was placed 41st out of 50 states in terms of education.

Biden’s stimulus proposal aims to tackle some of these academic issues, particularly in light of the possibility that the economy may suffer from a new workforce lacking in academic training.


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