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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08)

LANGHORNE, PA—Today, April 30th, 2020, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) sent a letter to United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging that school districts be granted the flexibility to utilize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant funding to help fill budget gaps in school district budgets.

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress allocated $13.2 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to alleviate the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that funding has not yet reached the local school districts and will not be enough to prevent budgetary cuts.

In Bucks County, the Morrisville School Board is considering taking extreme steps to make up a $1.4 million gap in the district’s annual budget. More is needed to help districts like Morrisville preserve fiscal solvency while providing students with the quality education they deserve.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and our community needs help. The funding appropriated by Congress is simply not enough to help districts like Morrisville stay afloat. We need to give school districts maximum flexibility to access much needed funds, to help them stay on track to best support their students, faculty, and staff.” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I have been working with the Governor’s office over the last few weeks and have learned that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has made similar requests to Secretary DeVos asking for guidance but the Department has yet to respond. School districts cannot wait any longer. The US Department of Education must act now to ensure that our school districts can provide the best quality of education during these turbulent times and to protect the jobs of our educators.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fitzpatrick has participated in multiple conference calls with all school district superintendents across the First District.

Full text of the letter:

April 30, 2020

Betsy DeVos

Secretary

U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary DeVos

I am writing to you today regarding the tough reality many school districts across the country are currently facing – large deficits and the inability to provide the necessary technology to students to supplement their distance learning education. In my district, the Morrisville School District is currently considering taking draconian measures to cover an at least $1.4 million-dollar gap in their budget, just to keep their school doors open for the new academic year. To provide flexible budgetary options for school districts during these uncertain times, I am asking the Department of Education to consider allowing school districts to utilize 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant dollars to help fill budget gaps in school district budgets. 

As you are aware, through the passage of the CARES Act, Congress has allocated $13.2 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to help alleviate the financial strain of this pandemic. Unfortunately, these funds are not enough to cover the fiscal gap school districts like Morrisville are facing, and these funds have yet to be released. At this very moment, school administration, support staff, specialists, and school programs are in jeopardy due to possible budget cuts. 

Given the circumstances, I am asking for the maximum flexibility that these school districts desperately need to ensure that every student receives the education they deserve while ensuring they have the proper foundation to reach their full potential.

If you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance, please contact my office at (215) 579-8102.

Sincerely,

Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01)

Member of Congress

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