The American Rescue Plan was first introduced in March of 2021 and has been on the mind of educators nationwide ever since. The plan includes funding for small businesses, individuals, and public services that suffered loss or strain due to COVID-19. While this resource is vital for educators and students across America, the funding changes each time the act is renewed. So what does this mean for teachers, administrators, and the students it affects the most?
American Rescue Plan (ARP) in 2022
The ARP was renewed in 2022, and the stipulations were also adjusted. According to the White House, “In 2022, CDC will award $3 billion through a new, first of its kind American Rescue Plan-funded grant program to strengthen the future public health workforce, including offering community health workers and others hired for COVID-19 response support in continuing their careers as public health professionals beyond the pandemic.”
When it comes to those who work in schools, the government called the education portion “$12 Billion in American Rescue Plan Education Funds to Strengthen the K-12 Educator Workforce and Expand Workforce Credentials.” Their goal is to give school districts more funding to close the learning gap that many students are facing.
This focus even extended to higher education beyond the K-12 student population. The goal is to boost the educated American workforce through college or trade school completion. Community colleges received $10 Billion, half of which goes directly to student success.
The looming funding cliff
While these funds have previously helped students and teachers to some extent, they will eventually end once the year ends. This means that some of the money must be used by a certain point, and the funding will no longer be available. The result of this is what is known as a funding gap.
A funding gap happens when a program or specific operation relies on money from the ARP, which will not be replaced. This means that some programs may not be able to continue or that there will be a drop-off in support previously available. While this is not something we know for sure will happen, the funding cliff is a possibility that should be prepared for.
Preparing for a funding cliff
There are ways to prepare for the reduction of resources and funding. But, school districts should first keep their eyes forward and prepare for the possibility of the ARP not being renewed. Several strategies are currently in place in some school districts. One of the main strategies is to create a financial soft landing.
What is a soft landing?
Instead of a harsh reaction to the withdrawal of funds, it’s best to create a use for the money that does not rely exclusively on the continuation of the ARP. For example, school districts are using the money for one-time, essential purchases. This could include:
- Computer programs.
- Air filtration systems.
- In-classroom engagement tools.
These are great instructional tools that can be used for years to come. In contrast, when the money is used to hire a new person or pay for additional salaries, the continuation is more difficult because it requires frequent usage. So here are some things to try your best to avoid:
- Additional hires.
- New programs.
- Computer programs that require yearly payment.
With the soft landing goal in mind, you can create strategies to support this eventuality. But, first, look into the future and prepare for what things will cease due to ARP ending. EdWeek surveyed to get a general idea of what school districts will be cut when the funding ends. Here are the results:
- 56%: Spending on PPE and cleaning equipment will be missed.
- 38%: Summer learning programs.
- 26%: District supplemental curricular resources for elementary students.
When administrators know what will be cut, they can prepare to replace those losses. This means communicating with teachers and students so they know what to expect. One of the main issues with a funding cliff is that the people who rely on the resources are blindsided and will not know what they will do without them.
Financial experts often use a strategy called “adaptive financial planning.” This means predicting the state of your financial situation and creating a plan to meet this expectation. While this tactic is often used in business, it can also help school districts.
Remember that specific funding gaps will be worse for some schools than others. ARP is more important than schools in more wealthy districts for notoriously underfunded districts. Underprivileged students will be impacted at a greater rate than their counterparts.
For example, some school districts in Oregon need billions to close their funding gap, especially in lower-income districts. The report finds that this gap has been in the making since before the pandemic, but the virus has caused an even steeper funding cliff.
Ready to find tools that can be used after the current funding resources are exhausted? Reach out to Agile Marketing today.