AASA Issues Statement in Response to ED Department's CARES Act Fund Portal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
James Minichello
703-875-0723
703-774-6953 (cell)
jminichello@aasa.org

Alexandria, Va. – Nov. 20, 2020 – Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Dept. of Education’s release of its CARES Act Education Fund Portal.

“As the nation’s public schools continue to lead their way through the enduring COVID-19 pandemic, we are disappointed to see the U.S. Dept. of Education’s CARES Act Education Fund Portal fall short of its potential and mischaracterize the situation. It oversimplifies the complex reality of school funding, where schools are simultaneously responsible for managing funds from multiple sources of funding, each subject to its own rules, all of which impact the rate of spending.

“This tool reflects a mere slice of the true process of local school district expenditures. While a small portion of the funding has actually been liquidated, the truer narrative is that a far larger portion of the dollars have been obligated. And THAT is the narrative that matters.

“It is misguiding to imply that schools are simply not spending the dollars, or to imply they are stockpiling cash. The reality is that the costs incurred—and that will be accrued throughout the remainder of the 2020-21 school year—will exceed not only the CARES funding already available to states and districts, but will likely also fully exhaust any additional funding made available, should Congress move a second COVID response relief package with funding dedicated to K-12 education.

“Further, any discussion about a delay in drawdown of CARES dollars must include the impact of the Secretary’s three-times court-defeated equitable services interpretation, which only served to unnecessarily complicate and delay fund availability. School superintendents operate at the nexus of ensuring the academic and physical wellbeing of their staff and students while also needing to balance their district budgets. This is a heavy task in normal times.

“Now, in 2020, with an unchecked pandemic and uncertainty whether CARES is the first or only source of federal support for schools, fiscal prudence at the local level should be encouraged and supported, not undermined or called into question.”

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For specific questions, please contact Noelle Ellerson Ng, AASA associate executive director, advocacy and governance, at nellerson@aasa.org.

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About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.