The New York Department of Education received its final $3 billion of funding from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plan after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Education.
The money will be used to help the state’s schools safely reopen in September, according to New York State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa. The state education department is focusing on three areas, beginning with lost instruction time and academic performance gaps created during the pandemic, according to the plan. Afterschool programs are expanding in 398 high-need school districts, according to the plan.
The education department also plans to fund full-day prekindergarten programs for 4-year-olds and to expand programs already in place.
Funding will also support training for Mental Health First Aid programs that help would help educators spot signs of mental illness.
“The lives of our students and their families were completely upended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said in a news release. “Learning loss and widening of the education gap over the past year and a half of this public health emergency have made the return of students to the classroom a top priority.”
State residents were given several opportunities to comment on the plan. The state officials received 6,844 unique responses from almost 5,000 participants, according to documents submitted with the U.S. Department of Education. Thirty-seven percent were from parents or guardians of current students, 37% came from educators with the remaining responses split between administrators and respondees who identified as “other.”
“With input from stakeholders, we have developed a plan to best disperse these funds to benefit all students, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status,” Rosa said.
New York received $8.9 billion in ARP ESSER funding. The U.S. Department of Education released two-thirds of the funding earlier in the year. The remaining third was contingent once state education departments submitted a plan detailing how the funds would be used. Twenty-two state plans were approved as of Aug. 5, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
This article was originally posted on New York education officials receive final $3 billion installment of ARP relief funds