Deadline fast approaching for Missouri schools to receive $1.95 billion in COVID-19 money

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 1:46 PM CST
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) -The deadline is fast approaching for Missouri schools to receive a share of nearly $2 billion in pandemic relief funding. It lies in the hands of the Missouri Legislature.

Missouri is the only known state not to distribute the money. Democratic State Representative Betsy Fogle says there are some school districts concerned about how they are going to keep their doors open if these dollars aren’t pushed out soon. The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan passed in March. U.S. lawmakers approved the $1.95 billion for Missouri schools. Fogle says the education dollars are wrapped up in the same bill as an increase in the base rate pay of state workers to $15 an hour. It created an unwillingness from the budget chair to move this bill forward.

”So what you’ll probably see is a fight to stall the bill temporarily to try to fix that back up to $15 an hour but we need to get those dollars out to school districts that are waiting for them sooner rather than later,” said State Rep. Fogle.

Missouri Republican State Senator Eric Burlison says the federal government should have never put us in this much debt. He says if the money is going to be spent, schools should get access to it. He encourages communities to get involved with their school districts.

“Pay attention to where your school district is spending these dollars and make sure they’re not wasting these dollars and it’s being used wisely,” said State Senator Burlison.

Branson Superintendent Dr. Brad Swofford says the funds are an opportunity for school districts and students to get ahead.

”Trying to put them in a position to make sure they’re at a grade level and up to speed progressing the way they need to be,” said Swofford.

Swofford says if the district receives the money, it plans to purchase air purification HVAC systems and additional instructional materials for students.

”That’s a very costly event to do in buildings our size,” Swofford said. “That pretty much dedicates that money, those are $3 million and $4 million projects.”

Missouri has until March 24 to approve the funding. If the state does not approve it, it will be given out to other states for use instead.

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