The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act have made available 1.19 billion dollars of federal funds to invest in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) system.
MDCPS is prepared to allocate these resources to serve students, staff, and district needs. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho allocates stimulus spending to accelerate learning, preserve mental and physical health, prepare for and avoid future closures, and maintain operations and retain staff.
Almost 42% of those relief funds, or $498.6 million, will be used to accelerate learning. That means that losses created by poor learning environments will have the funds to be potentially be mitigated. These funds will be spent on mobile devices for students and instructional material for tiered interventions.
Preserve Mental and Physical Health
Mental and physical health services will receive $319 million, equalling 27% of the stimulus spending. Mental services will include assisting students in recovering from the trauma and anxiety developed during the pandemic. These services help ensure kids are focused and able to succeed in classrooms. Staff members will also receive additional mental health awareness training, so they can better know the symptoms of these issues when presented by a student.
Physical health services will include covid-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination costs. It will also be devoted to operating healthcare hubs for students.
Maintaining Operations and Retaining Staff
The next allotment, 20% or $241 million will be devoted to maintaining operations and retaining staff. The goal will be to maintain operational capacity. It will also help retain full-time employees. The Covid-19 Relief Funds Spending Plan defines this is as efforts including “strategic redeployment of instructional staff based on student/school need,” “stipends for PD & tasks beyond the workday,” and “custodian expenses for 2020-21.”
Prepare for and Avoid Future Closures
The final 11%, or $130.7 million, will be used to prepare for and avoid future closings. Some funds will be used to lower the risk of transmission in the schools themselves. The other portion will be devoted to cybersecurity and associated training, upgrades to the school’s network infrastructures, and upgrading systems for central office and school communications.
Stimulus Spending Will Be Used Directly or Indirectly to Schools to Impact Student Outcomes
In a press note from the public school system, they noted that 93% of the stimulus spending infusion is being allocated “directly or indirectly to schools to impact student outcomes.” Also outlined is a statement that “The district will be overly cautious on the expenditures to ensure that the funding is correctly utilized under the outlined guidelines and to avoid unallowable expenses”
“The stimulus funds MDCPS received will constitute the primary source of investments for MDCPS over the next few years and will be carried out in phases,” says the press note. Of the five phases of expenditure through July 2024, the department is at phase I.
“As the ultimate authority of the nation’s fourth-largest school district, the School Board must take bold, unapologetic and deliberate steps to promote and maintain accountability, integrity, and transparency in developing a cohesive yet comprehensive plan for the use of funds allocated to the district through the American Rescue Act of 2021,” said School Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III. He sponsored the resolution leading to the development of the Covid-19 Relief Funds Spending Plan for the Miami-Dade County Public School System.