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APS anticipating $26M from CARES Act

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Public Schools is expecting nearly $26 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to help pay for device and internet costs, personal protective equipment, and cleaning supplies for classrooms and buses.

And $85,000 of that money is projected to go toward services for private schools due to federal funding requirements.

APS’ allocation comes amid conflicting guidance from the state Public Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education on how to decide the amount set aside for private schools. But APS says it will allocate in accordance with the state.

The district’s total allocation was based on how many of APS’ students are from low-income families, the same model used in Title I funding. However, the CARES Act funding comes with more flexibility than Title I dollars and can be spent on students districtwide, according to Teresa Scott, executive director of Budget and Strategic Planning.

The New Mexico Public Education Department recommended districts determine a private school’s share of CARES Act-funded resources based on the number of the private school’s students who are from low-income families and might otherwise attend a public Title I school. This route follows the typical Title I funding process.

But that’s at odds with U.S. Department of Education guidance that says a private school’s amount should be based on total enrollment and not just on the number of students from low-income families.

Scott told the Journal that APS is obligated to heed New Mexico PED’s guidance, anticipating the $85,000 will go toward resources at 13 private schools.

That translates to about 300 low-income students who will get services paid for by APS, according to Scott.

She noted that the $25,981,990 from the CARES Act has already been earmarked by the PED, but APS officials still have to submit a formal application this month.

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