$266 million package for Connecticut schools is one of the largest per-student funding plans in the region
Governor Lamont today highlighted his administration’s commitment of $266 million to assist school districts with offsetting additional, unbudgeted costs associated with safely reopening schools and providing all children with equitable access to a high-quality education.
The funding package accounts for one of the largest PK-12 state funding plans per-student in the region and country, and is derived from three sources: the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds, the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
Breakdown of the school funding streams:
- The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund is the main federal funding stream dedicated to supporting the state’s PK-12 system during the COVID-19 crisis. As previously announced, Connecticut received $111 million in ESSER of which $11 million is being reserved for state level activities that address the following priorities: internet connectivity; online academic content; and social/emotional supports. The balance of funds – $99 million – is being distributed to local districts who have significant flexibility in how they spend the grant so that existing education funds can be repurposed to areas of highest need, mitigate fiscal impacts, and immediately address educational disruptions.
- Connecticut has reserved 12 percent, or $160 million of its portion of funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to directly assist school districts with unbudgeted costs associated with COVD-19. In comparison to neighboring states, Connecticut’s dedication of CRF solely for education is 3 percent higher than Massachusetts, and 8 percent higher than both Rhode Island and Vermont. To determine the CRF allocation amounts for districts, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) conducted a survey of districts asking for the reopening model they selected and the estimated costs they anticipated incurring above their appropriated budget for the 2020-21 school year. Districts were notified that their survey responses on cost estimates would be used to directly inform Governor Lamont and the Office of Policy and Management in their decision-making about the allocation of funds. The information provided by districts led to a commitment of significant CRF funding by the governor for the reimbursement of expenditures related to (1) building cleaning, health, and PPE; (2) transportation; (3) academic; and (4) student support. This week, CSDE notified districts of an adjustment to their CRF allocations in the transportation-related personnel and non-personnel categories. This change will mean that some districts will see an increase in their allocation and others will see a correction that brings their allocation back to the amount they originally requested in response to the CSDE survey. To read the district-by-district allocation amounts for ESSER and CRF, click here.
- In addition, more than half of Connecticut’s receipt of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, or about $15 million, will go towards closing the PK-12 digital divide to ensure disadvantaged students and their teachers will have equal access to technology and connectivity to support remote learning opportunities. As part of the Lamont administration’s launch of the Everybody Learns initiative, a $43.5 million investment combining ESSER, CRF, and GEER will be made to purchase 50,000 laptops for students, provide 12 months of access to at-home internet for 60,000 students, create public hotspots free to the public at 200 community sites across the state, and offer social emotional learning content to school districts statewide.