Feds award $138M to RI, $611M to Mass. from emergency K-12 relief program

Politics - Government

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that Rhode Island and Massachusetts are among the first states that have won approval for their plans to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds devoted to K-12 education.

The department said Rhode Island will receive a $138 million distribution of funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program, which comes on top of a $277 million allocation from the same program that the state received shortly after President Biden signed the law in March.

Massachusetts will get $611 million, on top of $1.2 billion provided in March. The other states receiving federal approval in the initial round are South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Arkansas, as well as Washington, D.C., out of 40 that have submitted plans so far.

The money is set to be distributed Wednesday.

“The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The emergency schools funding is just one of multiple pots of money that Congress directed to states, municipalities and local school districts under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, much of which is just beginning to be distributed.

Officials in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts told federal officials they plan to spend the new funding on efforts to expand summer learning, as well as preparing for full in-person learning this fall and attempting to make up for lost learning time.

Local school districts in Rhode Island will need to start submitting their plans for using the federal funds beginning in August, while in Massachusetts they will need to provide plans by Oct. 4.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram

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