|Florida schools' pandemic aid 'largely unused'|
Florida schools have been awarded around $15bn in federal aid funds to address the impacts of COVID-19, but, writes Danielle J. Brown, most of the dollars have yet to be allocated by the state legislature for this past school year and this coming school year, and the 2021-22 academic year is just "weeks away." All three funds — the HEER, the GEER, and the multiple ESSER funds — total about $13.2bn dollars, she notes, though Florida has used just $1.7bn from early 2020 to now. One unused pot of about $2.3 billion, the one-third left from the ESSER III funds, sits idle because state officials missed the deadline for the U.S. Department of Education to approve a plan describing how these funds will be used. “Every minute these funds sit in Tallahassee is time that the funds are not being used to help Florida’s students,” wrote Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, a statewide teacher union, who sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on July 21. Gretchen Saunders, chief financial officer for the St. John’s County school district, says her district hasn’t received any information from the state about the American Rescue Plan dollars, meaning the ESSER III funds, while Polk County Schools has confirmed that it has not had access to American Rescue Plan COVID relief funds. Same goes for the Miami-Dade County school district. A staffer from the Orange County Schools says the district has not received any information from the state regarding these funds.