A second federal coronavirus relief bill is allowing Mississippi schools to soon see a large influx of federal dollars.
The second wave of funding allocated for Mississippi is nearly three times the amount the state received last year from the education portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), another stimulus package totaling almost $900 billion was passed in December by Congress. Of that, nearly $82 billion is set aside for the Education Stabilization Fund, specifically designated for K-12 schools and colleges and universities.
K-12 schools across the nation will receive $54 billion, and postsecondary institutions will receive $23 billion. Governors will receive $4.1 billion and the remainder will go to the Bureau of Indian Education.
Mississippi will receive a total of $1 billion.
This money is divided into the same categories as CARES education funds: The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II, and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund II.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II dollars go directly to the Mississippi Department of Education. The MDE allocates or sub grants the funds to school districts. The funding amount the state received was calculated using the same formula used to determine Title I funding, which are federal dollars given to schools with a high number of low-income students enrolled.
Title I funds for Vicksburg Warren County schools are more than $3.6 million this year.
Statewide around $720 million is slated for Mississippi for K-12 schools, compared to around $170 million the state received from CARES in 2020.
Public schools can use the money for similar expenses as they did for CARES Act, in addition to two new allowable expenses. Those include administrative and employment costs, coordinating preparedness and response efforts with other entities, addressing the needs of disadvantaged populations, purchasing technology and providing mental health services and support.
They may also use these funds to address student learning loss as a result of the pandemic and for repairing and improving school facilities to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Last year, the Mississippi Department of Education used CARES funds to launch its Mississippi Connects program, which provided a device to every public school student in the state. It also includes funding for improved connectivity for school districts and professional development for teachers.
The funds must be awarded by the state education department to districts by January 2022, and the funds must be spent by Sept. 30, 2023.