Florida only state not to submit school COVID-19 relief funding plan, US Education Department says

Governor's office says 'no district has articulated a need for funding'
Posted at 6:26 AM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 08:30:18-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The U.S. Department of Education said Florida is the only state in the country leaving billions of dollars in education funding on the table.

Florida was allocated more than $7 billion from the American Rescue Plan to support "students' health and safety and address their social, emotional, mental health and academic needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," and two-thirds of that allocation was released in March.

The remaining $2.3 billion in funding can't be distributed until Florida submits a plan to the Federal Government showing how the money would be spent.

"The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has now received an ARP ESSER State plan from 51 of 52 State educational agencies (SEAs), with the exception of the Florida Department of Education," Ian Rosenblum, the acting assistant secretary for the agency's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, wrote in a letter Monday. "FDOE's failure to meet its responsibilities is delaying the release of essential ARP ESSER resources that are needed by school districts and schools.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office said that, "at this time, no district has articulated a need for funding that cannot be met with currently available resources."

Monday's letter also noted that Florida's Education Department has drawn down some of the American Rescue Plan funds at the state level but has not yet awarded funds to local agencies.