Shelby County Schools will get almost $49 million, the largest share of about $260 million in emergency education funds that Tennessee will receive from the federal government to respond to the pandemic.
The state education department on Thursday informed superintendents how much money their school systems can expect from the coronavirus rescue package. The allocations are based on each district’s number of students from families with low incomes.
The one-time funding is part of a $2 trillion emergency bill passed last month by Congress and is equivalent to less than 2% of next year’s total estimated funding for K-12 schools across the nation.
The money will cover short-term needs as schools seek to address students’ significant learning loss and anticipated trauma from this year’s shutdown, as well as uncertain revenues for future years due to a likely recession.
Those expenses may include technology to support remote learning, summer and after-school programs to address learning gaps, mental health services, support for students with special needs, sanitizing buildings, and planning for long-term closures.
Almost $234 million will be distributed to the state’s 147 school systems, while the state will get $26 million to spend, according to the list of allocations obtained by Chalkbeat.
Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn told superintendents earlier this month that she hopes districts will receive their shares by June. On Thursday, she wrote them in an email that “the department remains committed to flowing these funds to districts as soon as possible.”
Tennessee will also receive part of a second pot of federal emergency funds for education.
The $3 billion Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund can go toward either K-12 schools or colleges and will be distributed to states based on their student-aged population and poverty levels.
Tennessee’s portion will be $63.5 million, based on information released this week by the U.S. Department of Education, and Gov. Bill Lee can spend that money at his discretion.
“Governors have the opportunity to truly rethink and transform the approach to education during this national emergency and ensure learning continues,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement on Tuesday.
Gillum Ferguson, the governor’s press secretary, called the money a welcome boost for Tennessee education.
“We’ll be working closely with the Department of Education and the COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force to determine the best ways to utilize these funds in an effective and equitable manner,” he said Thursday.