Almost $755 million in federal funds coming to Iowa schools

Gazette Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — Nearly $775 million in federal relief soon will be available to Iowa schools to help cover costs incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic, officials in the Iowa Department of Education said Friday.

The money is Iowa’s share of the more than $122.7 billion in a third round of emergency relief provided in the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, according to a news release. The money is part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, signed into law March 11 by President Joe Biden.

“With Iowa’s schools open for learning, this new round of funding will provide critical support to address current needs and plan for the future,” Department of Education Director Ann Lebo said.

“Schools can use this funding over the next two-and-a-half years to cover a variety of pandemic-related expenses and strategies,” she said.

The funding can be used for summer school and for other learning and enrichment programs to counter some of the learning lost when schools closed and switched to online instruction during the pandemic.

The law requires schools use at least 20 percent of the money to address disruptions in learning and to respond to the “social, emotional, behavioral health needs” of students.

Schools can use the money to hire people to “keep schools safe and healthy” and to support teachers “in the effective use of technology and meeting the connectivity needs of remote learners,” Lebo said.

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Department officials said they would provide more information soon about how the funding will be allocated.

About 90 percent of the nearly $775 million will be made available to school districts, with the state retaining the remainder to address issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the department.

This third round of federal funding is more than double the amount the state received earlier this year through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and roughly 10 times the amount the state received a year ago through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, according to the department.

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Gazette Des Moines Bureau

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