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Rep. Maloney, School Superintendents Talk About COVID Relief Funding

New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was in Newburgh Tuesday with superintendents from Orange County’s three city school districts. They spoke about how funding from the American Rescue Plan will help their schools.

Democratic Congressman Maloney was at the Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s high school — the Newburgh Free Academy

“Help is here. The American Rescue Plan will provide $130 billion, broadly speaking, to support education. Here in New York we’ll receive more than $9 billion to support education. That’s fantastic,” Maloney says. “And what I’m particularly proud about is that there’s going to be aid to our local school districts. So $30 million will come to the Newburgh School District, we believe. Another $7 million will be going to Port Jervis; $17 million will be going to Middletown; $15 million to the City of Poughkeepsie.”

Maloney says school districts in his 18th District, which includes all of Orange County, are receiving more than $200 million from the COVID-19 relief package President Biden signed earlier this month.

“It is a false choice to think about whether to get kids back quick or get ‘em back safe. Ya gotta do both. And the way to do both is to have the resources in the American Rescue plan deployed as quickly as possible so these guys can execute on their mission, get the kids back fully in the classroom, but in a way that’s safe,” Maloney says. “And that is the good news about where we are on the vaccine, it’s the good news about where we are on the American Rescue Plan is that we are finally putting our backbone behind defeating the pandemic, reopening our schools safely and quickly and getting the economy going at the same time.”

Newburgh Enlarged City School District Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla says the funding comes at a time of great need.

“It’s needed to mitigate academic regression that was caused by the pandemic. It’s important for taxpayers to remember that we anticipate this particular funding, one-time funding, to spread across several years,” Padilla says. “And the money, from our understanding at this point, is earmarked to support work directly in classrooms.”

He says they’re waiting for the details about how the money can be spent and how the resources ultimately make it to the classroom. Enlarged City School District of Middletown Superintendent Richard Del Moro:

“Children certainly in the early learning ages need this extra time and effort, and this funding source will help our teachers inside this avenue. Also in the upper grades are so many preparing for the next level as well as seniors graduating,” Del Moro says. “All of these areas need these extra funding sources so that we can provide it as soon as possible over a long period of time so that we can continue the learning efforts that are teachers have done, Herculean efforts over this really very, very difficult time in education.”

He says the funding is needed to help the neediest children in his schools, where more than 80 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch. Mike Rydell is superintendent of the Port Jervis City School District.

“Each of our school districts are looking at plans and collaborating and sharing ideas on how to best utilize this stimulus to allow our students to receive the supports and services that they need, as my colleagues pointed out, but also to help improve the financial stability of each of our school districts for years to come because, with all of this, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty, and that uncertainty is what we’re charged with weathering,” Rydell says.

Absent specific details attached to the funding, Rydell says he understands that the funding would be used through 2023. Del Moro adds:

“There is a set-aside, about 20 percent, on each of the allocations, set aside for intervention services,” says Del Moro.

Maloney says last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief will be made available to state educational agencies this month.

“So you’re talking about multi-year needs that will be addressed by this with a single funding event, the American Rescue Plan, and when that money comes through the usual funding mechanisms of the state to these school districts,” says Maloney. “That’s the part where have to stay focused on. And it may, in the end, affect some of the numbers that are accurate but according to a static formula like the Title I funding formula.”

Maloney says the American Rescue Plan delivers more than $170 billion in funding for education across the country.

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