This week Puerto Rico was finally granted the money from federal funds available to students in the island’s schools, NBC reported. The $912 million were initially blocked by the Trump administration until the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced on March 22 the release of the education funds.
In a statement, Cardona said, “The Department is committed to partnering with and supporting Puerto Rico in the efficient and effective use of department funds to serve Puerto Rico’s students, including to safely reopen schools and maximize in-person instructional time.”
These necessary funds come after schools started to reopen in Puerto Rico over the last two weeks and after the governor, Pedro Pierluisi, wrote a letter to Cardona asking for the release of the money.
“Our students have endured a lot, since the hurricanes from 2017 to earthquakes and the Covid-19 pandemic, and they deserve to go back to normal,” Pierluisi wrote. “These resources will provide the necessary funds to satisfy the needs of our students on the island.” According to Cardona’s office, $390 million of the funds are part of the CARES Act to help the island reel from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Part of these funds will aid the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
The rest of the money is part of the 2019 fiscal year department funds that totals $511 million. This is under Title 1, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
As more schools reopen, the U.S. Department of Education will work with local officials to correctly allocate the money and help students’ academic, social, and mental health on the island.
Releasing the money withheld by the Trump administration turns a new page and relationship between the commonwealth land and the Biden administration. Though there have been claims of fraud in Puerto Rico, small steps to move forward and progress are showing.
Secretary Cardona told the national newspaper of Puerto Rico, he was “confident in our relationship with Puerto Rico, that we are confident that what our students need right now is support.”