Centre County’s five school districts and one local charter school will receive a combined $19.4 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds, according to an announcement from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office on Monday.
Pennsylvania is expected to receive $4.9 billion in relief money for K-12 schools from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier in March.
“All schools have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I commend school communities for rising to the challenge to combat the toll it has taken,” Wolf said in a statement. “This extra funding is critical to help schools meet the unique needs of educating students at this time while keeping school buildings safe when students return to the classroom.”
Pennsylvania school entities will receive an amount proportional to the federal Title I-A funds received in 2020 under the Every Student Succeeds Act. About 90%, or $4.5 billion, of Pennsylvania’s funding will go to traditional public school districts and charter schools. The Pennsylvania Department of Education will use the remaining funds to assist schools that do not receive a direct allocation, such as career and technical schools and intermediate units.
Allocations for Centre County are:
• Bald Eagle Area School District: $2,310,978
• Bellefonte Area School District: $3,176,420
• Penns Valley Area School District: $4,909,254
• Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District: $3,455,075
• State College Area School District: $5,246,995
• Young Scholars of Central PA Charter School: $340,481
Districts and charter schools must use at least 20% of the funding “to address learning loss and the social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care,” according to a news release
The rest of the funding can be used for a wide range of activities including food service, professional training, technology purchases, sanitization and cleaning supplies, summer and after-school programs and mental health supports.
“Our school communities need these additional resources to invest in instructional materials, equipment, facilities, transportation and more, and we are pleased to make these funds available to them,” Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega said. “These funds will provide more assistance to school communities as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”
Funds must be used by September 2024. School districts and charter schools must apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education to receive their funds, with an application slated to be posted on the department’s website in the coming days.
In a letter to K-12 education leaders statewide on Monday, Ortega offered three guiding principles for making use of the funds. They included evaluating short- and long-term needs, consulting with school and community stakeholders, and considering research when evaluating proposals.