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Kansas plan to use American Rescue Plan funds to support K-12 schools, students approved

UofL Pan-African Studies Chair Dr. Ricky Jones said he was tapped to serve as the instructor of...
UofL Pan-African Studies Chair Dr. Ricky Jones said he was tapped to serve as the instructor of record for an “Intro to Black Studies” course for JCPS.(Pixabay)
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 12:55 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas’ plan to use American Rescue Plan funds to support K-12 schools and students has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

The U.S. Department of Education says on Thursday, July 22, it approved Kansas’ American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. It said the state’s plan details how it will use funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and equitably expand opportunities for students that need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am excited to announce the approval of Kansas’ plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year. The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.”

Earlier in 2021, the Department said it distributed two-thirds of the funds, totaling $81 billion, to each state and the District of Columbia. It said the remaining funds will be made available once state plans are approved. It said Kansas will receive $831 million in total funds and Thursday’s approval of the plan will result in the release of the final $277 million. Additionally, it said it approved plans for Delaware, Georgia, Iowa and New Mexico. Earlier in July, it said the Department approved the plans for 11 other states and D.C.

“Addressing student academic learning loss as well as the loss of social-emotional connections created by the pandemic has to be our immediate focus,” said Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson. “This infusion of federal aid into our education system allows us to aggressively address these issues to ensure our students get back on track for success.”

“This will be a back-to-school season like no other, and with American Rescue Plan resources, our schools will have the support they need to succeed,” said Rep. Sharice Davids. “I’m glad to see the Department of Education approve Kansas’ plan to implement these funds and get our kids back in classrooms safely while also addressing the toll this past year took on our students, educators, and communities.”

The Department said the ARP ESSER state plans approved by the department, including Kansas, show how states are using pandemic resources to support safe in-person instruction and meet the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs of students.

According to the Department, the KSDE has found several evidence-based interventions to mitigate the academic impact of lost instructional time, including a focus on the science of teaching language and literacy skills, standards-based mathematics instruction, social-emotional learning, screening and progress monitoring and evaluation of learning progress toward achievement of state standards.

The Department also said the KSDE will use funds in the summer of 2021 to partner with youth-focused community organizations to help recover lost instructional time in skill development due to the pandemic by using summer learning and enrichment programs and after-school programs. It said the KSDE also plans to offset the cost of admission for students to attractions to promote experiential learning opportunities.

According to the Department, the funds will allow Kansas to address a state-wide shortage in licensed professionals trained to address documented social-emotional needs of students coming out of the pandemic. It said this will include a Grow Your Own Counselor model that encourages districts to find candidates and employ them as student services coordinators while developing skills in an approved school counseling graduate program.

The Department said a total of 41 states and D.C. have submitted their plans to the Department. It said it is reviewing the plans expeditiously and is in contact with states to ensure plans met requirements in order to access remaining funds. It said it also is in contact with states that have not yet submitted plans, the vast majority of which are due to state board of education or legislative review requirements.

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