The state of Florida has officially submitted its education plan to the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) outlining how the state intends to spend $7 billion in education funding stemming from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Approximately $2.3 billion was being withheld from the state because the state did not apply for the money. Florida notably became the last state in the county to apply for its final third apportionment from the U.S. DOE.
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote in his letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona the state intends to spend the money to close achievement gaps and improve reading and math outcomes.
Specifically, $35 million will increase capacity for vocational training and $11 million for post-secondary vocational programs. It also allocates $8 million to pay for SATs and ACTs for high school students.
The plan includes provisions to provide personal protective equipment like hand sanitizer, masks, and bleach wipes.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried had criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for not submitting the proposal sooner, calling it a “dereliction of duty.”
“Imagine a $801 check for each student in Florida schools,” Fried tweeted. “That’s how much students, parents, and teachers lost by Governor DeSantis not bothering to apply for $2.3 billion in additional funding for schools. This is a shameful dereliction of duty.”
Imagine a $801 check for each student in Florida schools.
That's how much students, parents, and teachers lost by Governor DeSantis not bothering to apply for $2.3 billion in additional funding for schools.
This is a shameful dereliction of duty.
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) October 6, 2021
Responding to criticisms of the delayed application process, Florida Department of Education (FDOE) spokesman Jared Ochs said the state did not miss any deadline and the U.S. DOE was aware.
“The Florida Department of Education communicated well in advance with the U.S. DOE via a written notice on May 14, 2021, 24 days prior to the June 7, 2021, deadline, that it would not be able to submit the state plan in June and would require additional time,” Ochs said.
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