On March 11 of 2021, Congress signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, also known as the ARP. The ARP is the third act to provide federal stimulus funding, preceded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act). The ARP Act provides much needed money in order to adapt to the challenges and long-lasting effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Of particular relevance to Santa Barbara High School is the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, or ESSER III, the subsection of the ARP that deals specifically with money for schools. California was allocated a little over $15 million of the approximately $122 billion nationwide. That money was then distributed to districts, and from districts to specific schools. Distribution was based on several factors, but schools had to submit an application for funding and have received a Title 1 allocation in the 2020-2021 school year (meaning that the schools were previously eligible under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for money based on having a certain percentage of students from low-income families).
By using Title 1 in conjunction with school enrollment numbers and available data on stimulus allocation, EdSource estimates that Santa Barbara Unified received a rough total of thirty-five million dollars in relief funding. These funds were sourced from the CARES Act and the December 2020 COVID relief bill, as well as by a rough estimate of ARP funds, whose distribution at the time of EdSource’s publication of the figures was yet to be determined. The further breakdown is as follows:
|Local Education Agency||Total Relief Funding||Relief Per Student||CARES Act Federal Allocation(3/27/2020)||CARES Act State Allocation(3/27/2020)||$900B COVID Relief Bill(12/27/2020)||Est. Rescue Plan Federal Allocation(3/11/2021)|
|Santa Barbara Unified||$35,007,720||$2,722||$2,244,243||$7,761,110||$7,756,522||$17,245,846|
The ARP funds allocated to Santa Barbara Unified can be further determined via publicly available data from the California Department of Education. Currently and in future stimulus allocation, Santa Barbara Unified can expect to receive a total of $16,530,326. What the district will do with the money, however, is unclear. As of the time of publication, Superintendent Maldonado has not responded to a request for comment (no doubt due to the fact she is swamped dealing with the district’s newfound riches). Until more information becomes available to the public, we can only speculate. Although a certain percentage of the money is required to be used to address the learning loss of last year, the possibilities are endless. Possible uses include a giant slide from the main building down to the English building in order to help students avoid being late to class, an on campus coffee shop in order to raise energy levels among the student and teacher population to slightly higher than the walking dead, or teacher bonuses in order to show proper appreciation for the mountains of extra work they have had to do these past few years, and every year (all jokes, except maybe that last one). Either way, we can only wait and see.
[Image Credit: Samuel Schroth]