The Potluck

State Dept. of Education releases plan for spending pandemic relief funds

By: - July 2, 2021 1:07 pm

Photo illustration by Getty Images

The Minnesota Department of Education released its plan this week outlining how the state will spend more than $100 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law in March, directed more than $123 billion to helping schools and students across the country bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota received $1.3 billion, and the federal government requires the state to send at least 90% of that — nearly $1.2 billion — to school districts. 

That leaves $132 million in flexible funds for the state Department of Education. The stimulus package mandates states divvy up the money between three areas: Learning recovery to make up for lost instructional time, after-school programs and summer programs.

Minnesota will spend $66 million on learning recovery. The state will send the money to public schools based on enrollment of historically underserved students — students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, homeless students and students learning English.

Schools will be required to use the learning recovery funds for a list of evidence-based strategies, including expanding tutoring, recruiting teachers of color, translation services and field trips.

The state will direct $13.2 million to after-school programs. Ignite Afterschool, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit network of after-school programs, will distribute the funds. Half the money will go to culturally specific community organizations.

Another $13.2 million will go to summer learning programs, with full-service community schools, neighborhood programs and programs offering tutoring and hands-on learning taking priority.

Minnesota will also use $26 million for a range of programs that support teachers and students, like expanding access to advanced courses for students and training on trauma-informed instruction and discipline training for teachers.

The Department of Education will keep $13.6 million to improve the level of detail in its data reporting, create a public engagement division and administer grants.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.

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