Alachua Is The First School District To Get Federal Reimbursement Over Its Mask Mandate
The Alachua County School District has received $148,000 from the Biden administration to make up for pay cuts.
The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that was sending roughly $148,000 to Alachua County Public Schools, reimbursing it for money that has been withheld by the state.
The award is the first under the department’s new Project to Support America’s Families and Educators (Project SAFE) grant program and the latest salvo in an escalating fight over masking in schools between Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
At the end of July, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring that students wear masks. Nevertheless, several school boards voted to require masking in defiance of the ban. In response, the state moved to penalize two of those districts, in Alachua and Broward counties, by withholding state funding equivalent to the monthly salaries of the school board members who voted to defy the mask mandate ban.
So far, the state has withheld two months of board member salaries.
President Joe Biden later promised school boards that the federal government would cover the lost funds.
Strong leaders deserve support. Today, we awarded the first Project SAFE grant to @AlachuaSchools to cover financial penalties imposed on them for using policies that keep students safe. I spoke with @DrCarleeSimon to let her know: we have her back. pic.twitter.com/CpkJKq2xER— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) September 23, 2021
Alachua schools Superintendent Carlee Simon learned of the reimbursment in a phone call with Cardona, In a statement Simon expressed gratitude for the funding “but I’m even more grateful for [the Biden administration’s] continued support and encouragement of our efforts to protect students and staff and to keep our schools open for in-person learning.”
“With these grants, we’re making sure schools and communities across the country that are committed to safely returning to in-person learning know that we have their back.”