LAKEWOOD, NJ – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a few weeks ago that more than $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds are now available to state and local education agencies to support continued learning for K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus. Today, those figures were made public and only one school district in Ocean County is leaving the table with money hand over fist. Lakewood Township is receiving $11,770,100 in funding. Combined, all of Ocean County’s other districts are receiving just $8,005,801 with a large portion of that, $1.6 million going to Toms River. In most school districts, the aid won’t even reimburse the superintendent’s salary.
What is ESSER?
This funding is allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed by President Donald J. Trump less than a month ago. Education leaders will have the flexibility to use funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) for immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety, and developing and implementing plans for the next school year.
How can districts spend ESSER?
Plain and simple, however the hell they want. Local leaders are empowered with the flexibility to determine how to use their ESSER funds, as long as they are used in ways that comply with applicable federal education laws. The ESSER Fund has important safeguards in place to ensure that this funding goes to help students continue learning. State education agencies (SEAs) must allocate 90% of their ESSER funds to local education agencies (LEAs), including public charter schools, in proportion to the amount of FY 2019 funds the LEA received under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Up to 10% of the SEA’s award may be retained for the state agency to use to address needs related to responding to coronavirus. After one year, SEAs must return any funds that have not been awarded, and the Secretary will reallocate those funds to the states.
|Toms River Regional||$1,681,633|
|Little Egg Harbor Township||$302,162|
|Point Pleasant Boro||$245,176|
|Ocean County Vocational||$228,933|
|Seaside Heights Boro||$146,673|
|Ocean Academy Charter School||$111,911|
|Point Pleasant Beach Boro||$103,764|
|Long Beach Island||$44,388|
|Bay Head Boro||$24,575|
|Island Heights Boro||$16,766|
|Beach Haven Boro||$16,128|