Florida yet to submit plan for school funds through American Rescue Plan, holding up $2.3B

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida is the only state that has not told the U.S. Department of Education how it will spend the money allocated for schools under the American Rescue Plan.

That plan, once approved, unlocks $2.3 billion for our state.

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The Department of Education said in a letter that it is eager to provide any necessary assistance to support Florida in completing this important step.

READ: Florida kids to receive over $1B in school lunch relief

Read the full letter below:

“This money is greatly needed,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association. “It’s certainly one that’s worth being asked of the governor, ‘Why aren’t you taking these federal dollars?’”

He said the extra funding could help mental health and physical well-being, extra cleaning, sanitizing and air quality in schools, plus teacher and staff shortages.

READ: Brevard County School Board opts to keep mask mandate for now

The state received the first two-thirds of the money, but did not submit its plan by the June deadline, and also missed later deadlines in July and August.

In an email, the governor’s office told Channel 9: “At this time, no district has articulated a need for funding that cannot be met with currently available resources. Whenever this may change in the future, the state will coordinate with U.S. DOE to ensure Florida students and educators have the resources they need.”

But Spar said school districts “absolutely need these dollars, and they also need the flexibility that the federal government has granted to spend those dollars.”

READ: ‘It’s dangerous’: Photo shows local students forced to sit on floor in jam-packed school bus

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.