Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico was awarded over $460 million for education as part of the latest federal stimulus package – more than three times the amount of funding that came from the earlier Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The additional money is from two sources that received an infusion under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act that was enacted in December. The aim is to help schools respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has come with hefty price tags for local school districts.
According to U.S. Department of Education documents, New Mexico was allocated nearly $436 million out of $54 billion available from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund this time around. The state’s amount was based on a Title I formula, which targets students from low-income families.
The state didn’t have to submit a new application to get the funding.
New Mexico Public Education Department spokeswoman Judy Robinson said states that received money from this fund under the CARES Act automatically got the latest round of funding.
Meanwhile, another roughly $27 million in federal funds was earmarked for New Mexico from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, a funding stream to help governors with educational efforts. The majority of that money will go toward services at private schools, but about $10 million will be distributed by the governor for early childhood and higher education, in addition to K-12.
PED said that, like the CARES Act dollars, 90% of the roughly $436 million allocation will go directly to districts and charters in New Mexico, based on how many low-income students are at the schools. The rest can be spent by the state on other pandemic-related costs, such as computers, internet and resources for disengaged students.
“(Districts and charters) have a lot of flexibility to use the funds for most educational and pandemic response purposes,” Robinson said in an email.
The plan is to open the application process by Feb. 1, but the districts have to spend the initial CARES Act funding first.
Federal data – as reported through November – showed that, in New Mexico, 14% of CARES Act money for K-12 education had been spent. And just 6.5% was spent from the pool of money distributed by the Governor’s Office. Both were awarded in May.
But Robinson said that data may not be up to date.
“There is a significant lag between when districts expend funds and when they report the spending to us through a request for reimbursement,” she said. “Often, districts may not submit a request for reimbursement for many months after having spent funds. We expect that many districts have spent most or all of their funds, but have not yet submitted for reimbursement.”