Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2021
Gov. Whitmer Signs Bill to Put Michigan Students and Educators First
The governor was joined by students and educators to sign the historic school funding bill into law.
MACOMB, Mich. - Governor Gretchen Whitmer today joined students, educators, and support staff at Ojibwa Elementary School in Macomb County to sign House Bill 4421, which appropriates $4.4 billion in federal COVID relief funding to support schools across the state and help students, teachers, and schools recover from the pandemic. The historic education funding represents the bipartisan work completed in late June to ensure that Michigan's K-12 education system takes advantage of federal funding to make unprecedented investments in our schools.
"We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the type of investment in our schools that will put Michigan students and educators first as they head into the next school year," said Governor Whitmer. "Our actions today prove that Republicans and Democrats in Lansing can work together to enact budgets that are laser-focused on helping Michigan take full advantage of the unprecedented opportunity we have right now to make transformative investments in our schools that will have positive impacts for generations."
The bipartisan supplemental bill distributes over $4 billion from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, to power schools' efforts to get our kids back on track. A total of $841 million comes from ESSER II funding from December 2020, while $3.3 billion comes from ESSER III funding from President Biden's American Rescue Plan.
The ESSER funds will be distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocation - which means more money will get to districts that serve students with the highest need. The funds help meet a wide range of needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, including reopening schools safely, sustaining their safe operation, and addressing students' social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs resulting from the pandemic.
"Earlier this year, I appointed the Student Recovery Advisory Council to better understand our schools' needs and identify evidence-based strategies to help every student thrive after the pandemic," added Governor Whitmer. "We know this recovery isn't just about brushing up on fractions or remembering when to use the quadratic formula. Our students need a comprehensive recovery."
Today's funding represents supplemental funding for the current year budget. Legislation for the school aid budget for next fiscal year beginning October 1 is currently being reviewed.
"This is a significant budget supporting those who invest in the lives of our young people," said Rep. Brad Paquette, R-Niles. "The bipartisan work done here is just the first step towards even more future transformational positive change within our education system."
"Throughout the pandemic, teachers and support staff have stepped up and done everything in their power to teach their students and take care of their mental health amidst unprecedented obstacles," said Rep. Regina Weiss, D-Oak Park. "My colleagues and I are proud to have partnered with the Governor on HB 4421. This bill will send billions of federal covid relief dollars directly into our schools and classrooms for PPE, support staff, academic intervention, mental health services, air quality improvements, and more. This critical support will help students across Michigan return to learn, and sets a strong foundation moving forward for what meaningful investments in education should look like."
"This federal funding is a game-changing opportunity to invest in our students and schools, from aiding learning recovery, to addressing the educator shortage, to fixing aging school infrastructure," said MEA President Paula Herbart. "This infusion of cash won't permanently solve decades of underfunding education, but in the short run it can show our communities what's possible when we properly fund our schools."
"As school leaders work with parents and stakeholders to create plans for a return to school, they will need additional resources to ensure each child can experience success. With these vital funds, recovery plans have the resources to provide the academic, physical, mental, emotional, and community support students need to thrive," said Kevin Polston, Superintendent of Kentwood Public Schools and Chair of the Student Recovery Advisory Council. "The MI Blueprint for Comprehensive Student Recovery gave Michigan's school leaders and policy makers the game plan, now they will also have the resources to get the job done. We are grateful to Governor Whitmer and the bipartisan legislators who came together to get these crucial federal recovery dollars into our schools. Now we can all get to work putting the needs of Michigan's kids first."