Whitmer signs bill to send $4.4B in rescue funds to schools

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed a supplemental spending bill that releases an unprecedented $4.4 billion in federal coronavirus rescue funding designated for Michigan's K-12 schools.

It is a significant influx of aid, particularly to traditional districts and charter schools with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families. Detroit, for instance, is getting $1 billion — more than its entire general fund budget as originally adopted last fiscal year.

Legislation the Democratic governor is expected to sign next week would allot an additional $363 million in U.S. COVID-19 funds to ensure districts with more higher-income kids receive at least $1,093 more per student regardless of a federal formula — the equivalent of 13% of the state's minimum base amount this fiscal year.

“We are getting more money to districts that serve students with the highest need. But all districts are going to be getting a lot of help through this bill,” Whitmer said during a signing event at Ojibwa Elementary School in Macomb Township north of Detroit.

The state law allocates $3.4 billion from a rescue bill signed by President Joe Biden and more than $900 million remaining from an aid bill signed by former President Donald Trump. About $180 million goes to private schools. Public schools must use at least 20% of their funding from the most recent federal package to address pandemic-related learning loss with interventions such as summer learning and afterschool programs.

Since the pandemic began, Congress has injected an unprecedented $6 billion into Michigan schools, according to the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council. That is quadruple the federal recovery funds they got during the Great Recession.

Rep. Joe Tate of Detroit, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the new funding will help close the learning gap and let educators and administrators prepare for fully in-person instruction in the fall. In May, 93% of districts planned to offer some amount of face-to-face teaching, according to Michigan State University's Education Policy Innovation Collaborative.


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