South Dakota should see at least $32 million in education relief money

KELOLAND.com Original
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Federal money specifically targeted for school districts in each state could bring at least $32 million to South Dakota schools.

The federal government approved the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act.

Michael Wyland, Sioux Falls consultant in public and corporate policy, has estimated South Dakota will receive $32 million from the $13.2 billion in federal Education Equalization Fund money.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated the state could receive as much as $40.8 million in Education Equalization Fund money. It will also receive an additional estimated $7.6 million in Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) money.

The distribution of EEF money is based on state’s relative shares of grants awarded under Title I-A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), according to the Congressional Research Service. At least 90% of what states receive is to go to school districts through local education agencies.

To get the $32 million estimate, Wyland used a formula based on what states are expected to receive of the $3 billion in GEER money.

Wyland said South Dakota should get an estimated $7.9 million GEER. The amount is 0.268% of the national total and FY2018 Title 1 funding for SD school districts or about 90% of what the state receives each year in federal Title 1 funding.

Wyland applied the .0268% and 90% to the $35 million South Dakota gets each year in Title I money to get $32 million in Education Stabilization Fund money.

South Dakota had 290 Title I schools in 129 districts in the 2019-2020 school year, according to the state education department. Title I programs included targeted assistance and school wide programs. Title I serves low-achieving students and students from low-income families

The federal government does have requirements for the CARES act money including states needed to assure that they will continue to fund K-12 education at the same level of three prior fiscal years, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. But that can be waived by state secretaries of education if the state has a decline in finances.

South Dakota may be one state using a waiver.

Gov. Kristi Noem has already said in several news conferences she expects a decline in state revenue because of a decline in sales tax revenue, lottery revenue and other sources. Sales tax revenue accounts for more than half of the state revenue.

An analysis by school finance consultant Michael Griffin shared in Education Week said the CARES Act money won’t be enough to offset shortfalls in state budgets.

Wyland agrees.

“Thirty-two million to districts doesn’t sound like a heck of a lot, but it’s better than zero,” Wyland said.

The state’s aid formula funding for education for Fiscal Year 2020 was $563,644,401, which includes $560,643,768 in state general fund money and $3,000,633 in other funds.

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