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Michigan Governor Signs Bill to Fund Schools’ COVID Recovery Efforts

July 8, 2021 by Ansley Puckett
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

LANSING. Mich.— Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined students and staff on Wednesday at Ojibwa Elementary in Macomb county to sign a bill that appropriates $4.4 billion in federal COVID relief funding to schools. 

According to a release, House Bill 4421 represents bipartisan work completed last June and will support schools across Michigan to help students and teachers recover from the pandemic through federal funding. It is meant to address a range of needs such as reopening schools safely, sustaining safe operations, and addressing students’ social, emotional, and academic needs resulting from the pandemic. 

“Our actions today prove that Republicans and Democrats in Lansing can work together to enact budgets that are laser-focused on helping Michigan take full advantage of the unprecedented opportunity we have right now to make transformative investments in our schools that will have positive impacts for generations,” Whitmer said. 

The funds will be distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocation, which means more money will get to districts that serve students with the highest need. 

Kevin Polston, superintendent of Kentwood Public Schools and chair of the Student Recovery Advisory Council, said these resources would ensure students, parents and schools have what they need to “experience success.” 

“With these vital funds, recovery plans have the resources to provide the academic, physical, mental, emotional, and community support students need to thrive,” Polston said. “We are grateful to Governor Whitmer and the bipartisan legislators who came together to get these crucial federal recovery dollars into our schools. Now we can all get to work putting the needs of Michigan’s kids first.” 

The bill distributes over $4 billion from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief to fund schools’ efforts to get children back on track after the pandemic. A total of $841 million comes from ESSER II funding from December, and $3.3 billion comes from ESSER III funding through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. 

State Rep. Regina Weiss, a Democrat, said she was proud to have partnered with the governor on the bill to support teachers and support staff as they help students through the pandemic, according to a release.

“This bill will send billions of federal COVID relief dollars directly into our schools and classrooms for PPE, support staff, academic intervention, mental health services, air quality improvements, and more,” Weiss said. “This critical support will help students across Michigan return to learning and sets a strong foundation moving forward for what meaningful investments in education should look like.” 

The bill provides supplemental funding for the current school year budget, while legislation for the next fiscal year budget beginning Oct. 1 is currently being reviewed. 

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