Iowa receives nearly $345 million in new round of federal COVID-19 relief for schools
DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Education today announced that the state has received nearly $345 million in federal relief for PK-12 schools through a fund to address costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amount is Iowa’s share of the more than $54 billion in emergency relief provided in the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund II within the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, 2021, which was signed into law Dec. 27. This second round of funding is more than four times the amount the state received last spring through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“These funds will provide critical support to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Iowa students and families who depend on the essential services provided by our schools,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “Schools can use this funding to measure and address unfinished learning and contend with other coronavirus-related challenges. That includes the need for increased professional development, educational technology, cleaning supplies and other sanitation measures, facility repairs, upgrades to improve air quality in school buildings, summer learning, supplemental after-school programs and mental health services.”
Since this is a supplement to the federal funds received in the spring, school districts do not need to reapply. However, they must agree to a list of assurances on how the funds will be used, which is available in the Consolidated Accountability and Support Application (CASA) system that districts use to report information to the Department of Education.
Of the $345 million, 90 percent will be available to school districts. The remaining funds will be used for state-level educational efforts to address urgent issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The allocation of funds is based on each school district’s eligibility for Title I, Part A funding. Title I, Part A is a federal program that provides districts with funding based on the percentage of low-income students served by the district. A list of allocations by school district is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.
This round of funding differs from the $71.6 million Iowa received last year through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund within the CARES Act because there is no provision for nonpublic schools to receive a share of the funds. Instead, a separate program will be available for nonpublic schools to apply for additional funding as part of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund II. Details on that fund will be announced as soon as they are available.