Florida has missed the deadline to receive $2.3 billion in federal aid through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) money. A letter was subsequently directed to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran (R) by Ian Rosenblum, the deputy assistant secretary for policy and programs for the federal department.
In the letter to Corcoran, Rosenblum writes that “the Department released the first two-thirds of each State’s allocation in March and required each state to submit its plan for spending its ARP ESSER funds by June.” However, “FDOE did not meet this deadline, nor did it meet the July and August submission timelines that were anticipated following conversations with your staff.”
Rosenblum went on to explain that the department has “heard repeatedly from parents, teachers, and superintendents from school districts in Florida that FDOE has not yet awarded ARP ESSER funds to local educational agencies.”
In response to the letter sent to Corcoran, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) argued that school districts have not fully spent the first round of aid. Moreover, there are some district plans that are currently being reviewed for the second round of funding while there are other school district plans that are supposed to last all the way through September of 2024.
In Governor DeSantis’ statement, his office argues that “if you are willing to identify any of the specific school districts that have complained, we would be happy to provide you the specifics for those districts,” adding that the Governor’s office “will continue to ensure their needs are met.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) and Florida Rep. Charlie Crist (D), both challenging Governor DeSantis for his seat in office, took to social media to criticized DeSantis over the issue.
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) October 5, 2021
We are the ONLY state that is choosing to withhold $2.3 billion from our schools.
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) October 5, 2021
One school district in need of the additional funds is Hillsborough County as expressed by Addison Davis, the Hillsborough County School Superintendent.
In a statement, Davis detailed that the county could use the money “to be able to address the achievement gap, to be able to address so many efforts to be able to support our students and be able to support our working conditions of our adults to make certain our children have the best education possible.”