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ICYMI: Edelblut & DeVos’ Attempt to Push Anti-Public School Agenda Delays Relief Funds for NH


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Yesterday’s Concord Monitor detailed how New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are trying to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a political opportunity to push their anti-public school agenda and in doing so, have delayed funding for New Hampshire schools. Key points:

  • “New Hampshire schools are in line to receive $37 million in federal assistance this year, part of the $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package passed by Congress in March. But a national fight over how much of that money should go to private schools has made getting those funds out the door tricky.“

  • “A week and a half later, none of the state’s funds had been distributed to schools, Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said in an interview Wednesday...At issue is a technical distinction with broad implications. Last month, the federal Department of Education issued guidance for how to spend the funds, directing states on how to provide ‘equitable services’ to private schools that operate in a certain school district. Following the guidance would mean that private schools would receive more money for equitable services than usual.”

  • “But there are some states that have gone ahead and begun distributing the funds under the old formula. That includes Maine and Pennsylvania, which have bucked the federal Department of Education in favor of the old formula.”

“Betsy DeVos, Frank Edelblut, and Chris Sununu are holding funding for New Hampshire’s public schools hostage to their extreme anti-public school political agenda in the midst of a global pandemic,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

Concord Monitor: Confusion creating a hold up in distribution of federal CARES money to schools By Ethan DeWitt New Hampshire schools are in line to receive $37 million in federal assistance this year, part of the $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package passed by Congress in March. But a national fight over how much of that money should go to private schools has made getting those funds out the door tricky. Now, some school administrators have voiced frustration about a protracted delay. “It’s been very frustrating trying to understand how we access the CARES funds,” said Manchester Superintendent John Goldheart in a conference call with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on May 19. “I don’t get a lot of answers from our state department.” A week and a half later, none of the state’s funds had been distributed to schools, Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said in an interview Wednesday. That’s because the state Department of Education is still waiting for formal direction from the federal government on how to do that. Absent that direction, none of the money can responsibly leave, Edelblut said. “It’s a question of, ‘what is the formula for allocation of those funds,’” said Edelblut at the Executive Council meeting last week. “And we continue to wait for definitive guidance from the federal government in terms of how that allocation would be made.” At issue is a technical distinction with broad implications. Last month, the federal Department of Education issued guidance for how to spend the funds, directing states on how to provide “equitable services” to private schools that operate in a certain school district. Following the guidance would mean that private schools would receive more money for equitable services than usual. Whereas normally under Title I, the money for private school services is only distributed based on the number of low income private school students in each public school district, the new guidance counts all enrollments to private schools – low income or otherwise. That means more private school students are counted and more money that would have gone to public schools is directed to private schools. [...] In Manchester, Goldheart says the limbo has been tough for Queen City schools, which are entering into the next budget process and which need to know how much in federal allotment should be set aside for the city’s private schools. “It’s been frustrating because we would like to get moving on that,” he said. Speaking on the call with Goldheart, Sen. Shaheen agreed that the process was “very frustrating.” “The funding in the CARES Act has been slow to go out,” she said, adding that her office would be pushing the state Department of Education to get the money released. [...] For his part, Edelblut says the department is waiting for the final rule before it sends money to schools. Doing that protects the state against the possibility of a “clawback” situation in which money given out to schools would have to be returned and reallocated, he said. But there are some states that have gone ahead and begun distributing the funds under the old formula. That includes Maine and Pennsylvania, which have bucked the federal Department of Education in favor of the old formula. Others, like Texas, are moving ahead but following the new guidelines issued by the Department of Education. “There are some states who have followed one way and some states who have followed another formula,” Edelblut acknowledged. New Hampshire, though, is going to wait, he added. Speaking Wednesday, Edelblut said that the state Department of Education does not have a preference over how the money is distributed. “We just want to follow the law,” he said. For now, school districts have been encouraged to prepare the materials they need to receive the funds as they wait. “They have stuff that they need to work on to get to the money,” said Edelblut. “So until they do that they can’t access the money anyways. So we’re doing parallel processing here.” Read the full article here.


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