Florida missing out on $2.3B in federal school funding as only state to not apply

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran stands next to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020 at Boggy Creek Elementary in Kissimmee, Fla. (Image: Jeff Segers/WKMG) (WKMG 2020)

Florida is the only state in the country that has yet to apply for billions in federal dollars to help the schools in the state, according to the US Department of Education.

CNN reported the US Education Department sent a letter to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday to ask about the status of the state’s plan and let Corcoran know a plan is needed to unlock more than $2.3 billion in remaining American Rescue Plan funds.

“The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has now received an ARP ESSER State plan from 51 of 52 State educational agencies (SEAs), with the exception of the Florida Department of Education,” wrote Ian Rosenblum, the acting assistant secretary for the agency’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The administration of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has said it doesn’t need the money and did not indicate any immediate plans to apply for the last round of money when asked by the Miami Herald on Monday.

Florida was allocated more than $7 billion of emergency relief funds for schools, with the first two-thirds released in March and the remainder due after the state provides the additional information, according to reporting from Bloomberg.

Florida then missed a June deadline for submitting a plan and then two more agreed-upon extensions after that.

The letter is the latest school-related back-and-forth between the Biden administration and DeSantis who have disagreed on a COVID-19 response and other key national issues.

Democrat Nikki Fried, who is running for Florida governor in 2022, attacked DeSantis on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Imagine a $801 check for each student in Florida schools. That’s how much students, parents, and teachers lost by Governor DeSantis not bothering to apply for $2.3 billion in additional funding for schools. This is a shameful dereliction of duty,” she tweeted.

In an effort to help states reopen schools safely during the pandemic, the Biden administration earlier this year announced the allocation of more than $122 billion in COVID-19 relief for pre-K to 12 schools. The remaining federal dollars are contingent on the approval of a state plan detailing how the funds will be used, the US Education Department said.