Federal stimulus package provides aid to schools

Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker spoke on an April 8 conference call with NJEA’s state, county and local leaders and NJEA staff to discuss the implications of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to New Jersey’s schools. The act aims to help stabilize workers, families and the economy during the COVID-19 public health crisis. It was signed by President Donald Trump on March 27.

NJEA President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty hosted the call and fielded questions for the senators from those on the call. Menendez addressed the time it took to ensure funding would be equitably distributed before final passage of the CARES Act.

“The CARES Act would not have had money for education, the level of support it has for the unemployed, small business protections, and would not have had a Marshall Plan for our hospitals, had we not fought hard for it,” Menendez said.

Sen. Booker indicated that the CARES Act was not the last word on support in the health care and economic wake of COVID-19.

“Although the bill represents a critical step in the right direction in helping individuals most impacted by COVID-19, more work remains,” Booker said.

In addition to support for education, the CARES Act also provides money for direct payments to individuals and families, and financial support and resources small business, health care systems, state agencies such as NJ Transit, counties and municipalities, and affordable housing, among other provisions.

Education Stabilization Fund

Of the $2 trillion in the CARES Act, $30.75 billion is budgeted for the Education Stabilization Fund. Sens. Menendez and Booker reported that from that, for education, New Jersey is set to receive $695.6 million, including:

  $310 million for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

  $316 million for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

  $69 million for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to provide support to school districts and institutions of higher education hardest hit by COVID-19.

The CARES act will also distribute to New Jersey, $62.6 million for Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) to help provide access to high-quality child care for front-line workers such as health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and others deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus, and to provide continued payments to child care facilities that face closure or decreased enrollment due to COVID-19. 

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