Legislative Update
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Dec. 21, 2020

Members,

Shortly after our previous email, Congress published the bill containing the proposed new COVID-19 stimulus package. The bill is a whopping 5,593 pages. Congressional votes are expected today and may stretch late into the night. Details will continue to trickle out over the upcoming hours and days, but here's some of what we know now.
 

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund


Amount: $54.3 billion nationally to be distributed to states in the same proportion as Title 1 dollars. That amounts to about $650 million for Oklahoma public schools. You can download the district-by-district allocation projections, which we also shared earlier, here.

Provisions:
  • Requires the state Department of Education to send at least 90% of its emergency education relief funds to schools.
  • Distributed to school districts based on Title 1 population.
  • Authorizes broad use of the stimulus funding for almost any expense, including maintaining existing staffing levels and overall operations. It also specifically allows technology, site-based needs, cleaning supplies, mental health services, summer and supplemental learning, and school facility repairs and improvements to reduce virus transmission and to improve indoor air quality. See the full list of allowable expenses below.
  • Provides flexibility and funding for child nutrition program. We will provide more details when they become available. 
  • The bill does not extend provisions of the Family First Coronavirus Relief Act that previously provided qualifying employees with paid federal leave and extended Family and Medical Leave Act eligibility for COVID-related needs. Without an extension, the benefits will end Dec. 31. Districts may allow employees flexibility to use their accrued local leave or grant paid administrative leave for those who contract the virus and must isolate and to those who are exposed and must quarantine.
 

Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund


Amount: $4.1 billion nationally to be distributed to states, including an estimated $55 million for Oklahoma. 

Provisions:
  • A portion of the governor's discretionary funds must be set aside for private schools.
  • The remainder can be used for emergency support for higher education, school districts or other qualifying education entities.
I know this is a lot of information to digest just a few days before Christmas, and we'll have additional information and guidance for you after the holidays. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need additional information. You can reach me via email or on my cell at 580.747.0179.

Sincerely,

Shawn Hime, Ph.D.
Executive Director


Allowable Uses of Stimulus Funding

  1. Any activity under ESEA, IDEA, Perkins Act, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, or subtitle B of title VII of McKinney-Vento.
  2. Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
  3. Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
  4. Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
  5. Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies.
  6. Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
  7. Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
  8. Planning for, coordinating, and implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students, providing technology for online learning to all students, providing guidance for carrying out requirements under the IDEA and ensuring other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
  9. Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and children with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
  10. Providing mental health services and supports.
  11. Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
  12. Addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care, of the local educational agency, including by—
    1. Administering and using high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable, to accurately assess students’ academic progress and assist educators in meeting students’ academic needs, including through differentiating instruction.
    2.  Implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students.
    3. Providing information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment.
    4. Tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
  13. School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.
  14. Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.
  15. Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.
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