Beverly Anders, executive director of finance for the Monroe County School District, announced at the last school board meeting that $ 13 million in federal funds will soon be arriving in their coffers, under the American Rescue Plan (ARP ) Act. The district will use the money as an ARP for schools: to mitigate learning losses due to the pandemic. Anders has until December 17 to submit a proposal with specific details of how the funds will be spent.
Anders told Keys Weekly that she knew in March that federal money was coming when President Joe Biden enacted the ARP. But time has passed and the state has not requested the funds.
“The state of Florida was the last state in the whole country to request these funds,” she said.
But the state eventually applied and received its share of the ARP pie. Florida Cup for Schools? $ 6.4 billion.
Anders said how much each county received depended on enrollment in schools. “Dade County got a billion dollars. It gives some perspective, ”she said.
Once Anders learned that Monroe County was getting the $ 13 million, she had to submit a formal proposal outlining how her money would be used. But because Florida applied for ARP funds very late, the state gave Anders a tight deadline for the proposal.
“Fortunately, they extended this until December 17,” she said. “But at first they gave us two weeks.”
The elements of his proposal all have a unified goal: “We are going to be diligent and responsible for how we use this money and will provide resources to students for social, emotional and educational purposes to overcome what they went through during the pandemic, ”Anders mentioned.
The proposed allocations include: $ 8 million for 66 newly created positions, such as social workers, reading counselors, nursing technicians and guidance technicians; $ 1.5 million for charter schools; $ 2 million for furniture to provide educational spaces and multimedia centers for collaborative learning and social distancing; $ 200,000 for technologies such as additional Chromebooks and wireless access points to allow children to work remotely.
The next step for the proposal after submission? Contribution of the community audience on how the money will be spent. The district is authorized to make changes to the proposal based on comments. To get this feedback from the community, Superintendent Theresa Axford will be holding town halls throughout the winter and spring.
“The town hall meeting schedule comes out before we leave for winter break,” said Amber Archer Acevedo, community relations coordinator for the school district.