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BIE begins distribution of funds from American Rescue Plan Act

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Indian Education began disbursing funds this week from the $850 million it was provided from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The funds are earmarked for BIE-funded K-12 schools and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCUs). The only BIE-funded and tribally-controlled schools in Florida are the Ahfachkee School on the Seminole Tribe’s Big Cypress Reservation and the Miccosukee Indian School in western Miami-Dade County.

The BIE announced the distribution of the $850 million as follows:

  • $535.5 million will go to the 183 K-12 schools in its school system based on the Weighted Student Unit formula,
  • $229.5 million will go to TCUs based on student count, and
  • $85 million will be managed by BIE School Operations for investments, such as the buildout of a Learning Management System and facility ventilation improvement projects.

“This much-needed financial support will aid our ability to help the Tribal communities we serve recover more quickly from the pandemic’s wide-ranging impact on them,”  Bryan Newland, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Interior’s Indian Affairs, said in a statement April 23. “ARP funds are vitally important for alleviating strains imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic on BIE students and their families, as well as on teachers, administrators and staff in our K-12 schools and at the TCUs.”

The BIE is using the same set of 11 allowable expenses identified by the U.S. Department of Education for CARES Act funding. Some items on the list include purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities; training and professional development for staff about sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases;  planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care; providing mental health services and support; and improving the coordination of agencies, departments and other entities involved in the Covid response.

The ARP Act was signed March 11 by President Biden.