Federal COVID funding approved by Legislature – with many strings attached
Update 3/9 – On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 4048 releasing federal COVID relief funding for schools as laid out below, but announced she was vetoing HB 4049 – the bill limiting gubernatorial epidemic powers around school closure and athletics which the Republican Legislature tied to the release of $840 million in those federal funds. The administration has asked for immediate negotiations with the Legislature on how to get this money to schools and students, as intended by bipartisan federal action last December. She also announced two line-item vetoes from HB 4048: the $10 million voucher program for summer school expenses and $86.7 million in funds earmarked for non-public schools.
This week, the Legislature has finally approved distribution of federal COVID relief funding passed by Congress in December – but not without adding new conditions to the funds and continuing political gamesmanship with the Governor over public health responses during the pandemic.
Without any negotiation with the Governor’s office, HB 4048 was amended and passed by both the House and Senate. MEA has developed a listing of district-by-district estimated additional funding based on the provisions in this bill, which does the following:
- Allocates $650 million from federal COVID relief (distributed to districts via the federal Title 1 formula designed to promote equity for districts with greater poverty) without any additional strings.
- Another $840 million of those funds would be distributed (again via Title 1 formula) if the Governor signs HB 4049 (which would limit gubernatorial epidemic powers around school closure and athletics – this is the tie-bar MEA has previously opposed).
- For districts that would get less than $450 per pupil from the above, another $136 million in state funds has been appropriated to increase per pupil funding to that level if the district offers at least 20 hours of in-person learning per week by March 22. (NOTE: MEA lobbyists are working to get a clear understanding about how this language impacts districts operating under hybrid schedules, which may not be known until we get an interpretation from the Michigan Department of Education.)
In addition, the bill allocates more than $150 million in funding for various remediation services, like summer programs, credit recovery programs, before- and after-school programs, additional summer school staffing funding, and reading/math benchmark assessments. MEA is analyzing the bill to provide local associations more information about the uses and impacts of this funding. However, one specific item MEA has been opposing throughout this process is a $10 million “voucher-style” program that would reimburse parents or legal guardians $50 per student for costs incurred by participation in summer or credit recovery programs – these funds should be added to resources for districts to provide needed services.
Next, these bills head to Gov. Whitmer for her consideration – MEA is working closely with the governor’s office as she balances the need for federal funds to be allocated with concerns about public health amidst the pandemic.
One thought on “Federal COVID funding approved by Legislature – with many strings attached”
Why is the MEA not fighting this? This is forcing most schools to go back in full or risk losing millions of dollars. For someone whose motto has been to “follow the science” this surely isn’t following the science and guidelines for schools set forth by the CDC. Those guidelines are quite clear cut and indicate that schools should not be fully in person at this time. Why is MEA not fighting this and supporting the thousands of due-paying members?
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