The department sent a letter to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran inquiring about the state’s plan for schools and its need to use more than $2.3 billion in remaining American Rescue Plan funds.
“The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has now received an ARP ESSER State plan from 51 of 52 State educational agencies (SEAs), with the exception of the Florida Department of Education,” wrote Ian Rosenblum, the acting assistant secretary for the agency’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Leaders from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education are asking state leaders to apply the funds to upgrade HVAC systems, install air purifiers, aid bus driver shortages and remedy the effects of teachers retiring or resigning during the pandemic.
Broward County Teacher’s Union President Anna Fusco told NewsNation the refusal to submit a plan was a “political attack from Gov. Ron DeSantis on President Joe Biden.”
Fusco said COVID-19 has affected nearly every school district — from staff shortages to resources. She said the extra billions of dollars can help hire more teachers, put more social workers on call to support students and get students who have fallen behind during the pandemic more individualized tutoring and teaching.
School leaders say funding is an ongoing battle and say they plan to write letters to the governor demanding help. DeSantis has said if enough schools say they need it, the state will apply.