Education Sec. Cardona Says Dept. Welcomes Innovation in using COVID-related Education Funds

061621 LHHS FY22 Education Budget
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Questions Education Secretary on School Funding Flexibility.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today sought to ensure that Mississippi education officials and schools have flexibility to use significant new federal funding provided to “reopen schools,” despite most Mississippi schools being open for 2020-2021 school year.

Hyde-Smith questioned Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about the American Rescue Plan funding during a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to review the FY2022 budget requests for the U.S. Department of Education.

“Mississippi has recently received significant American Rescue Plan funding to help reopen our schools.  The reality is that most Mississippi schools have been open for in-person learning for nearly 10 months, as many Mississippi schools resumed classroom instructions last August.  We really got back in quick with good results,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I’m interested in knowing that states like Mississippi have the flexibility to use funding to meet its specific needs, particularly since many of our schools are open unlike schools in many other states.”

Cardona noted that flexibility and innovation are encouraged, and offered to work with Mississippi officials as the state determines how to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding.

“As a matter of fact, we’ll reach out just to make sure that we’re partnering with Mississippi to make sure that their questions are answered and that we can promote as much flexibility to meet the needs of the students as needed,” Cardona told Hyde-Smith.

The U.S. Education Department in March announced more than $1.62 billion in ARP ESSER funds to Mississippi to aid in reopening schools.  In addition, the state received another $89.6 million in ARS funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand COVID testing in support of resuming in-person classroom instruction.