As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is increasing pressure to reopen schools safely amid concerns over learning loss and student mental health. To bolster these efforts, the federal government has passed a series of stimulus bills over the past 13 months, including the recent American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, collectively providing over $235B in funds to America’s public and private K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
While these funds represent a significant and much-needed investment in education during the pandemic, many Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are missing out on available relief due to lack of staff resources or program knowledge, uncertainty around funding requirements, and simply not knowing what can or should be done. Veregy is working with schools to determine how best to utilize any and all available funds, including state and local programs such as those created by California’s AB-841 that help improve the health and safety of classrooms and allow schools to quickly and safely reopen.
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are missing out on available relief due to lack of staff resources or program knowledge, uncertainty around funding requirements, and simply not knowing what can or should be done.
Federal, State, and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds for California’s K-12 Schools
Veregy assists LEAs in leveraging programs and legislation that provide relief funding to K-12 schools and higher education institutions, with special attention given to funding available to LEAs in California. Below are several available stimulus packages and programs with funds allocated for education.
American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act (H.R.1319)
Passed in March 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 (H.R. 1219) provides $1.9T in COVID-19 relief including $123B in funding for school districts—the largest-ever one-time federal investment in K-12 education. There is also an additional $2.7B allocated for private K-12 schools. ARP authorizes these funds through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief Fund (ESSER III Fund), with states receiving funds based on the same proportion they received under the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) Act Title-IA.
As of March 24th, $81B of these funds (two-thirds of the total K-12 allotment) has been released by the Biden Administration to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. California will receive just over $15B in assistance for its K-12 schools through ARP with approximately $10B Immediately available. The remaining third of the funding will be released after states have submitted their plans for how they will use the funds to reopen schools safely and bridge any educational gaps caused by the pandemic.
Funding authorized and available through ARP can be used for a wide range of activities, including the purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning/sanitation materials, the hiring of additional staff, upgrades to HVAC systems to improve ventilation, and programs and devices to combat learning loss—among others.
California – Assembly Bill 841 (AB-841)
In September 2020 Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 841 (AB-841) into law, authorizing the California Energy Commission to design, administer, and implement the School Energy Efficiency Stimulus (SEES) Program, including two grant programs:
- The School Reopening Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair Program (SRVEVR) provides grants for schools to perform general HVAC assessment, maintenance, and upgrades, including ventilation requirement verification, C02 monitors, and more.
- The School Noncompliant Plumbing Fixture and Appliance Program (SNPFA) provides grants for schools and state agencies to replace plumbing fixtures and appliances that are currently noncompliant in meeting water efficiency standards.
Both the SRVEVR and SNPFA programs prioritize schools located in underserved communities during this initial round of funding.
Learn more about the SEES program and AB-841, including how to get started on our School Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program page.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes $30.7B in emergency funding for educational agencies to address the impacts COVID-19 has and continues to have on K-12 and higher education institutions.
The CARES Act established two main funding sources—the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER I Fund) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund). Of the $13.2B allocated to the ESSER I Fund, California’s allocation is approximately $1.6B. California’s allocation from the $3B in funding in the GEER Fund is approximately $355M, which Governor Newsom is allocating toward reducing learning loss.
Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act
Signed into law on December 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act authorizes nearly $82B in support for education in addition to the relief funds provided by the CARES Act. Approximately $54.3B of the funds for education will go toward K-12 via the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund) with roughly $6.7B of that going to California schools. Additionally, $4B of the CRSSA relief is allocated to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER II Fund), which includes a special carve-out for private schools of approximately $2.75B. These funds will provide emergency relief to LEAs to address the impact COVID-19 has had and will continue to have.
Veregy understands and supports the safe reopening of schools, and assists Districts, Charters, and Higher Education institutions by aiding with prioritizing qualified program improvements as part of their overall capital improvement budgets.
Our qualified and licensed energy advisors help education customers identify and navigate a multitude of financing options. These include Federal programs, CA AB-841 SRVEVR and SNPFA grants, the California Energy Commission’s zero/low percent interest loans, utility on-bill financing (OBF), energy service performance contracting, energy reinvestment funding (i.e., revolving energy efficiency funds), as well as alternate financing sources to ensure that each and every dollar is put to the best use, maximizing the LEAs ability to open quickly, safely, and responsibly.