On Tuesday, March 23, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents Congressional District 18, held a press conference alongside several superintendents to announce an influx of over $200 million in emergency federal relief to Orange, Putnam, Dutchess and Westchester school districts, including Bedford Central and Katonah-Lewisboro.

The American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by President Joseph Biden on March 11, will provide an estimated $170.3 billion in funding for overall education, and nearly $14 billion in funding to New York’s child care, Head Start, K-12 and higher education programs.

“We are all celebrating the fact that the American Rescue Plan includes a historic investment in education,” Mr. Maloney said during the press conference.

According to Mr. Maloney’s office, under the new federal aid package, Bedford Central School District will receive $3.7 million and Katonah-Lewisboro School District will receive $587,000. Those figures are slightly lower than estimates provided by Mr. Maloney’s office several weeks ago. Prior to the bill being passed by the Senate and signed into law, the Congressman’s representatives estimated Bedford Central would receive $3.9 million and Katonah-Lewisboro, $619,000.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund would be made available to state educational agencies this month. The ARP ESSER includes $122.8 billion in elementary and secondary school emergency relief funds to be allocated based on each school district’s Title I, Part A funding.

The bill requires states to allocate 90% of the elementary and secondary school funds to local education agencies like school districts, based on their relative share of Title I, Part A funding. School districts will be required to use at least 20% of the funds they receive to address lost learning time for students. Districts can spend the remaining 80% on local needs and priorities as they see fit.

During the press conference, Mr. Maloney said one of his priorities is to ensure school districts will use the relief funds in ways that translate into resources to help kids in the classroom. Mr. Maloney said he has stressed in conversations with school superintendents that it was not enough to know the funds are coming.

“Our schools have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, and it’s only because of the heroic efforts of our teachers, our school boards and our superintendents that our kids have been able to continue their education during this very difficult period,” Mr. Maloney said.

Local school districts are engaged in budget planning for the 2021-22 school year. The outlook for state education aid will not be clear until New York finalizes its annual budget in the next several weeks. School budgets for both local districts will go before voters for approval in May.

Jessica Leibman is a staff reporter at The Record-Review where she covers the Town of Lewisboro the Katonah-Lewisboro School District.

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