PHOENIX — The Governor’s Office today will begin the process to distribute $370 million in CARES Act money to K-12 school districts and charter schools today. In total, more than $716 million in federal COVID relief funding has been directed to Arizona K-12 schools. 

The Enrollment Stabilization Grant (ESG) Program was first announced as part of the “Arizona: Open For Learning Plan,” which improves schools’ budget stability, increases funding for students who choose virtual options, and provides additional resources to cover the cost of in-person learning. 

The school districts and charter schools have the flexibility to use ESG program dollars as needed to continue the safe operation of their schools in either an in-person or virtual setting. Some examples of eligible activities are teacher salaries, distance learning, technology, enhanced sanitation, and PPE. The process to distribute the funding begins today, and every eligible district and charter that applied will receive funding. The Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting will verify whether schools met grant criteria such as providing in-person support services for students in need during school hours, conducting benchmark testing and completing financial reporting before funding is released.

“Our office has been working with school leaders, educators and families to ensure schools and students have the support they need,” said Governor Ducey. “Schools are facing additional costs to maintain health and safety in the classroom and to make sure students learning online stay engaged. Today’s funding will help schools meet the needs of kids while keeping our communities safe.” 

Background
In total, more than $716 million in new federal funding has been directed to Arizona K-12 education this year: $370 million in Enrollment Stabilization Grant Program funding from the Governor’s Office; $69.2 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding, and $277.4 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) funding awarded directly to the Arizona Department of Education, which will distribute the dollars to local K-12 schools.  

In July, the Governor announced the “Arizona: Open for Learning” plan. The plan provides maximum options for Arizona families, ensures students receive a full academic year of education, invests a total of $440 million in federal dollars to our schools, and gives local school leaders the flexibility and public health guidance to make the best decisions for their students.

As part of this investment, Arizona has dedicated more than $69 million from the GEER Fund, part of the CARES Act, for Arizona schools and students in greatest need. The investments include: 

  • $40 million to expand broadband in rural communities and bridge the digital divide;

  • $19.5 million in additional support for high-need schools;

  • $6 million in the Arizona Teachers Academy;

  • $1.5 million in microgrants to support innovative programs to continue educating Arizona students;

  • $1 million for vehicles for the Arizona School For The Deaf And Blind;

  • $700,000 for leadership development through Beat The Odds Leadership Academy; and

  • $500,000 to expand the number of our nation’s eager and talented college students to work with schools serving Arizona’s most vulnerable student populations.

 In addition, the bipartisan budget agreement signed by Governor Ducey on March 28 included new investments for K-12 schools, including:

  • $175 million for the third installment of the 20×2020 teacher pay raise plan;

  • $67 million in accelerated flexible funding for schools, which can be used on things such as technology, textbooks, building renewal, and personnel; and

  • $90 million for school building renewal, in addition to $28 million FY2020 supplemental funding, for a total of more than $118 million in new dollars for school repairs and maintenance.

Public Health Support For Schools:
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is providing free masks to Arizonans, encouraging students and vulnerable individuals who are unable to purchase masks to place orders. Each order will include five free washable, reusable cloth face masks. 

ADHS also continues to expand COVID-19 testing across the state, including locations near schools to ensure students, families and school personnel have easy access to testing. More than 500 testing sites are available to Arizonans, and free saliva-based testing is available at multiple locations every day. 

On August 6, ADHS released guidance to support the safe reopening of in-person learning in Arizona schools. The benchmarks and schools dashboard were developed in partnership with the Arizona Department of Education. 

This month, ADHS launched a Healthy Kids, Open Schools campaign to provide schools and parents tools to help keep kids healthy, prevent transmission, and keep schools open. 

Access To Meals:
In April, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized the Arizona Department of Economic Security to provide Arizona P-EBT Pandemic School Meal Replacement Benefits to households with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. There are nearly 600,000 students receiving free or reduced-price school meals in Arizona, including 186,000 students already receiving Nutrition Assistance, who are eligible for these benefits.

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