Metro Nashville Public Schools will receive more than $276 million of the nearly $2.5 billion the Tennessee Department of Education received from Congress’ latest coronavirus relief package.
As the state’s second-largest school district, Metro Schools is receiving the second-largest amount of the state’s share of the federal COVID-19 relief funding, behind Shelby County Schools in Memphis, which is set to receive more than half a billion dollars — Memphis: $503,145,852 to be exact.
Knox County Schools is set to receive around $114 million and Hamilton County Schools in Chattanooga will receive around $91 million.
Last week, Congress approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan. Out of the overall package, $130 billion is intended for K-12 education — likely the largest federal investment in history.
How much money are school districts getting? A lot.
The federal funds are allocated through the Title I program, which provides funding to schools based on the number of low-income or high-needs students they serve.
In Nashville, more than 38% of Metro Schools students are considered economically-disadvantaged according to the state’s most recent TN State Report Card. More than 56% of Shelby County students are economically-disadvantaged.
The funding allocations break down to nearly $2,500 per-pupil nationally, according to Chalkbeat, but some Tennessee school districts will see much less funding than others.
On average, Tennessee districts will receive around $15.3 million, but the median for the state is $6.5 million.
Overall, the state education department is allocating $2,238,874,272, or 90%, of the $2,487,638,081 that Tennessee is set to receive directly to school districts — the minimum amount it is required by the law to disburse directly to local agencies.
That means the state is banking nearly $250 million for the education department itself.
Find out how much your local school district will receive
How much assistance have schools gotten since the COVID-19 pandemic started?
In January, the state received $1.1 billion for K-12 schools, which have yet to be officially dispersed. The Tennessee Department of Education received nearly $260 million in CARES funding last spring, more than 90% of which was allocated to local school districts, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn previously said.
Most Tennessee school districts are waiting for the state education department to approve their plans for how they will spend the second round of funding, known as ESSER 2.0. Districts had until March 15 to submit spending plans and expect to receive approval by April 1.
Like other federal funding, such as the money districts get each year for school nutrition, districts are reimbursed by the state as they spend it.
Earlier this year, the state and Metro Schools were entangled in a debate after the state accused the district of not drawing down or applying for reimbursement for its federal funds, including some of the $26 million in CARES Act funds the district was initially allocated last year.
Metro Schools was allocated about $123 million of the $1.1 billion in ESSER 2.0 funds that Tennessee was allocated as a whole in January.
Though the state hasn’t approved the district’s spending plan, the board does plan to use $51 million of the $123 million toward COVID-related operation costs which includes an $18 million contract with Meharry Medical College, $4.7 million to hire additional school nurses and $11.2 million to improve facility ventilation systems.
Want to read more stories like this? A subscription to one of our Tennessee publications gets you unlimited access to all the latest news and the ability to tap into stories, photos and videos from throughout the USA TODAY Network’s 261 daily sites.
Meghan Mangrum covers education for the USA TODAY Network — Tennessee. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.