Minnesota to spend $132 million in federal rescue money to boost student recovery from pandemic effects

(Associated Press photo)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WKBT) — Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that Minnesota will spend $132 million in federal American Rescue Plan education money to support student recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
The announcement came after the Minnesota Department of Education submitted the state plan to the U.S. Department of Education. The state received a total of $1.3 billion for E-12 education under the rescue plan, 90 percent of which was allocated directly to schools through a federal formula.
The $132 million represents the remaining 10 percent.
Public feedback contributed to the decision, intended to bolster critical programs that were not included in the E-12 education budget, as well as to tailor support to students who have faced the biggest challenges as a result of the pandemic, Walz said.
“Minnesota’s students and families faced so many challenges throughout the pandemic and supporting every one of them remains a top priority, especially as we head into the next school year,” Walz said.
“This funding allows us to invest in things that did not find agreement in the education budget, but that we know our students need in order get back on track and stay on track in school,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added a parental view, saying, “As a mom of a soon-to-be third grader, I know how hard this school year was on our students and families. We owe it to them to do everything we can to support not only their academic learning recovery, but also their social-emotional and mental health.”
Under the federal law, Minnesota is required to spend most of the $132 million in four areas: learning recovery, after-school programs, summer enrichment and other state activities to support students and schools. A small portion can be used for grant administration.
The disbursements include:

  • In the area of learning recovery, the education department will allocate $66 million directly to public schools to support students using evidence-based strategies. Schools also will be encouraged to partner with community organizations to support students.
  • For after-school programs, $13.2 million will be allocated to Ignite Afterschool, an organization and network leader with expertise in evidence-based after-school programing, for grant distribution. Fifty percent of the funds will be directed to community organizations. The other half will be directed to culturally specific community organizations.
  • Another $13.2 million will be allocated to summer education through grants, with 50 percent going to community organizations. The remaining 50 percent will be dedicated to culturally specific community organizations.
  • About $26 million will go to public school grants for full-service community schools, expanding rigorous coursework and other endeavors. The remaining $13.6 million for other state activities and grant administration will go toward building and reinforcing systems in the education department.