Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor.
Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor.

Schools serving disadvantaged students will get much-needed CARES Act funding, Gov. Whitmer announced Wednesday.

LANSING, MI — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday that $65 million in coronavirus relief money was being allocated to schools. 

The funds come from Michigan’s allotment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money will go to schools, higher education and other education-related institutions struggling hardest with financially responding to the pandemic. 

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“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and approach the start of the new school year, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our students, educators, and support staff,” Gov. Whitmer said in a statement. “This funding will help us do just that, and ensure crucial support for our schools, whether it’s helping schools access PPE and cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most.” 

Whitmer explained districts with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged and special education students will be prioritized. 

“This is a good start, but we still need the federal government to work together on a bipartisan recovery package to support all Michigan students and educators, as well as state governments, families, and small businesses,” she added. 

Schools, both K-12 and higher education, have faced decades of disinvestment and great strain under the current pandemic. Uncertainty about the coming year has also provided challenges to educators. 

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“MASB appreciates any assistance the state can provide to districts in the time of heightened need,” said Don Wotruba, Executive Director of Michigan Association of School Boards. “The earlier budget deal helped to prevent cuts for all school districts and provided them with needed funding for COVID safety costs.  This new funding targets school districts that provide education services to children most at need.”

Recipient districts will be able to use their funding for purposes like aiding connectivity and distance learning, addressing learning loss, student mental health and other similar services, particularly in economically disadvantaged districts. 

It’s essential and appreciated that Gov. Whitmer is focusing these resources on districts with the highest need during this pandemic,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart. “Both from a public health and from an educational standpoint, economically disadvantaged communities need these additional funds to keep students safe and academically engaged.  Equity in education funding is a critical issue and it’s encouraging to see Gov. Whitmer remain committed to addressing disparities so every student gets a great education no matter where they live.”