OHIO — Money intended for some of the poorest students in grades K-12 may not make it to them if states choose to follow new guidance from the US Department of Education.

What You Need To Know

  • Ohio's eight largest school districts stand to lose $10 million

  • Superintendents object to the US Dept. of Education's recommendation for K-12 federal aid to be distributed according to another funding formula

  • The formula would allow families who are not economically-challenged versus those living in poverty to receive chunks of aid

  • CMSD would not be able to purchase much-needed technology for its students

When Congress passed the CARES Act to help schools across the country deal with the blows dealt by COVID-19, they said federal funding for K-12 should flow through the Title I funding formula. That formula determines aid for Ohio children living in poverty. But now superintendents are speaking out with the looming possibility that chunks of that aid may not reach those who need it most.

Superintendent Eric Gordon, of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, was quite surprised when the US Department of Education recommended that another formula instead of the Title I formula be used to distribute CARES Act money to schools. 

“The change here is to flow more dollars to those non-public schools for children who are not eligible for poverty, which reduces the dollars that go to those in public schools who are qualified,” he said.

Gordon says diverting much-needed money away from America’s poorest children would impact all districts across the country— urban, suburban and rural districts that are already struggling.

Here in Ohio, the move would cost the eight largest districts $10 million dollars alone.

Since it’s a recommendation by the US Department of Education, states will have the choice to decide whether or not they follow it.

“Some states have already said they're not going to follow it, but are going to implement the CARES Act as Congress intended,” said Gordon.

If Ohio follows the recommendation, Gordon said CMSD would take a huge hit.

“If we lose $2.2 million because of this shift, that's $2.2 million of laptops I can't buy, so that kids and families who already have them get additional resources.”

The loss would put money into the pockets of families who are not in poverty.

Although Ohio has not made a decision yet, Gordon said at the end of the day, he just wants to make sure that the dollars go to where Congress intended.

Gordon hopes Governor DeWine and other Ohio leadership will ignore the guidance and issue the dollars out to public and non-public schools according to the Title I funding formula. He believes that if states, including Ohio, choose this route, it will set the stage for future funding.