© 2021 WYPR
Header Background.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
WYPR News

State Education Board Releases Draft Of ARP Funds Spending Plan

3845498024_70a07c871b_o.jpg
Krissy Venosdale/Flickr
/
An empty classroom. On Tuesday, the Maryland State Board of Education passed a motion to share an American Rescue Plan spending draft plan with stakeholders.

The Maryland State Board of Education approved Tuesday the public release of a draft plan for spending $1.3 billion of American Rescue Plan funds.

Assistant State Superintendent Mary Gable said the state board will prioritize speeding up the return to in-person instruction for all students, addressing the mental health and social-emotional learning needs of students, families and educators, as well as addressing learning loss.

The federal government distributed nearly $122 billion to school systems throughout the U.S. to accommodate reopenings and operating procedures while addressing the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of students stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The influx of funds is “nothing we've ever seen before in the history of education and we may never see it again, so we really need to make good decisions about the use of it,” Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, said at a virtual board meeting.

The state education department has already received two-thirds of the $1.95 billion set aside for Maryland; the federal government will issue the final third after the draft plan is formally approved.

State education departments were supposed to submit those plans earlier this month, but Salmon, who will be replaced by Mohammed Choudhury at the end of June, received an extension from the U.S. Department of Education until July 30 to accommodate the new superintendent’s transition.

Local education agencies must spend at least 20%, or $487.8 million, of the funding they receive to shore up learning loss with items such as summer classes and after-school instructions.

Gable said schools will divert this pool of funds to support intensive tutoring, accelerated learning and social emotional support for students. She pointed to a partnership with NorthBay, an outdoor education center that offers residential academic intervention programs. The state will request proposals in July from local school systems for afterschool programs for students attending high-poverty and low-performing schools and award $19.5 million over three years, she said.

Remaining funds are more flexible and can be spent on pandemic-containment measures such as HVAC upgrades, reducing class sizes, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff to care for students’ health.

The state education board plans to use that pool of money to help local school systems bolster technology systems, distribute free meals to students and identify and study the needs of underserved students, Gable said.