Dear Colleagues in Private Education:
Peace and all good things! I hope, first and foremost, that all of you are well and that your family and friends are safe and healthy. Today, I am writing a preliminary summary of the CARES Act provisions, as they pertain to the equitable participation o f private school students, in the portion of the Act called the Education Stabilization Fund. A couple of comments before proceeding-
- “Preliminary” because we are awaiting definitive guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
- “Education Stabilization Fund” portion of the CARES Act is what I will cover and I will not discuss the Small Business Administration loan provisions here.
Section 18005 of the CARES Act provides for the equitable participation of private school students and teachers “in the same manner” as provided under Section 1117 of ESEA of 1965 (currently ESSA), as determined in consultation with representatives of private schools. As with pro- grams that you are familiar with, the public school district will maintain control of the funds and material, equipment, and property purchased with these funds. The public school district will provide the services and benefits directly or through a third party. This section applies to two previous sections of the CARES Act, which are also part of the section entitled Education Stabilization Funds.
Section 18002 grants funds to Governors to assist districts and institutions of higher education that are significantly impacted by Coronavirus. This section provides for the equitable participation of private school students. This section accounts for 9.8% of funding—approximately $3 billion—from the Education Stabilization Fund. More on this section when the Education Department guidance is released.
Section 18003 provides grants through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund. These grants account for 43.9%—approximately $13.5 billion—of the Education Stabilization Fund amount. (The remaining Education Stabilization Funds are for higher education). In a nutshell, this is how the funds for the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund are distributed:
- SEAs receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education in the same proportion as each state received under Title IA in the most recent fiscal year.
- SEAs sub grant 90% of this amount to LEAs in proportion to the amount of funds that LEAs received under Title IA in the most recent fiscal year.
The outstanding questions at this point in the process are:
- How is the proportional share of funds to provide equitable services determined? Is it based on the number of private school students attending schools located in the LEA compared to all public and private school students attending schools in the LEA, or is it based on the number of low- income private school students who reside in participating Title I attendance areas in comparison to all public and private school low-income students residing in Title I attendance areas?, and
- Which private school students are eligible to receive benefits from the program? Only those private school students eligible for Title I services? Only those private school students attending private schools with participating Title I students? All private school students?
Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education is crucial in answering these questions in that the language of the law is not particularly clear.
Let me just conclude with the list of possible uses of funds from Section 18003. As you can see, the list of uses for these funds is very broad and should serve both public and private school students well during this extraordinary time.
- Any activity authorized by ESEA of 1965 (currently referred to as ESSA), IDEA, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), or subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance.
- Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of LEAs 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.
- Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
- 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.
- Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs.
- Training and professional development for staff of the LEA on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
- Purchasing supplies to sanitize ad clean the facilities of the LEA, including buildings operated by such agency.
- Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for on-line learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under IDEA and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
- Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the LEA that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
- Providing metal health services and supports.
- Planning and implementing activities related to summer leaning and supplemental after-school programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
- Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation and continuation of services in LEAs and continuing to employ existing staff of the LEA.
Whether all of these options will be available under equitable services is another topic that needs a decision from the U.S. Department of Education. The private school community believes that all of these options should be open for the provision of equitable services, but there are some states that look at the continual reference to LEA as an indication that equitable services should be more limited.
In closing, I want to assure the private school community that you are well-represented in the negotiations on these topics by your membership organizations and the leadership of the Council for American Private Education. I will continue to keep in touch with additional information as it be- comes available.
Stay safe and healthy!
Michelle L. Doyle