Coronavirus Relief Funds for Catholic Schools

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has passed a roughly $2 trillion coronavirus response bill intended to speed relief across the American economy. There are seven main groups that would receive funds from the CARES Act: individuals, small businesses, big corporations, hospitals and public health, federal safety net, state and local governments, and education.

The CARES Act provides $30 billion to the US Department of Education including $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants, $14 billion for higher education and $5.3 billion for programs for children and families, including immediate assistance to childcare centers and $13.5 billion to shore up K-12 education budgets.   There are two funding streams where funding will be allocated to K-12 schools through grants allocated through ESSA and IDEA.  Private schools are included. Those two funding streams are:

Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund Governors would apply to the federal government for grants to provide emergency support to local educational agencies that have been most impacted by coronavirus. (Sec. 18002)

  • It will be important for leadership to work with the governor for access to this aid.
  • With monies under the fund, the governor can provide “support to any other institution of higher education, local educational agency, or education-related entity within the State that the Governor deems essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students…the provision of child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support, and the protection of education-related jobs.”
  • The allocation has two parts: 60% of the allocation is based on student population and 40% of the allocation is based on section 1124(c) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (Sec. 18003)

  • $13.5 billion in formula funding directly to states, to help schools respond to coronavirus and related school closures, meet the immediate needs of students and teachers, improve the use of education technology, support distance education, and make up for lost learning time.
  • There are twelve uses for money provided under the fund, which include any activity under ESEA and IDEA, supplies to sanitize and clean facilities, planning for closures, purchasing educational technology, mental health support, items principals need “to address the needs of their individual schools and continuing to provide services and employ staffers, etc.
  • The allocation of this fund to the states is based on the same proportion each state received under Title IA in the most recent fiscal year.

Each state’s share will be determined by how much money it currently gets through Title I.  States will divide that money up among districts as they do with Title I.  The rule of thumb to keep in mind will be “equitable share”. The private schools are to receive their equitable share in the same manner as provided under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The LEA/school district is required to consult non-public schools and the “control of funds” maintains with the LEA/school district.  These funds are available through September 30, 2021.

As private schools, we will need to be actively engaged in securing all available funds at both the state and local levels.  We want to avoid if possible having  existing funds transfer between Title programs; labeling schools a “Title I school”, regardless of the student poverty level; and losing funding for professional development.

Provisions that Help Employers Retain Workers During the Crisis These employment questions and options will require further analysis and discussion with the Archdiocese and our Catholic partners before it’s determined that our Catholic schools will be able to access these funds.

Moving forward it will be important as Catholic schools that we promote and advocate to Governor Inslee the tremendous role our schools play in the landscape of education in Washington State. We will be working with the USCCB, WSCC and WFIS on strategies to secure private schools’ funding at the highest level when considering the disbursement of these funds.  We need to have our voice heard in the implementation of the CARES Act.