The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act may bring federal aid to the 175 Catholic schools in the archdiocese, thanks to the work done by Cardinal Dolan and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate majority leader.
“The Cardinal showed national leadership and advocacy on behalf of Catholic schools and that he was successful on behalf of Catholic schools throughout the country almost exclusively because of his partnership with Senator Schumer,” Michael Deegan, superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, told CNY.
The American Rescue Plan Act includes $2.75 billion for the nation’s non-public schools. This comes after New York City Catholic schools did not realize any federal money from last year’s Coronavirus Response and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
“Our Catholic schools in New York City have not seen a penny of that money because the city has created such a bureaucratic entitlement it has prohibited us from benefiting from what lawmakers in Washington intended for our Catholic schools to get,” Deegan said.
“Because of Chuck Schumer’s attention to detail, he made sure the language in the American Rescue Plan on the disbursement of money did not need to go to the local public school system. It went from the federal government to the state government to the state education department, and therefore we are very optimistic that we will fully benefit from what the federal government intended our Catholic schools to benefit from.”
John Cahill, chancellor of the archdiocese, said the conversations between Cardinal Dolan and Sen. Schumer played a critical role in the American Rescue Plan, including funds for non-public schools.
“(Cardinal Dolan’s) discussions with Senator Schumer drove home the need for justice and equity with respect to the children who attend our schools,” Cahill said. “Certainly there was a large amount in there for public school students, but initially there was nothing coming out of the House bill that was going to give any sort of assistance to non-public schools. It really was the diligence of His Eminence and his many conversations with Senator Schumer, and we’re all very grateful for Senator Schumer’s proactive response.”
“I’m very optimistic we will be able to access money allotted in the stimulus and do so rather quickly,” he said. “This money will put us on a fair setting or equal setting with the public schools that have been affected by the pandemic and a real position as well going into 2021 to continuing the terrific education we provide children in our Catholic schools, particularly in our inner cities.”
Deegan now waits for government guidelines to determine what needs to be done to apply for federal funds that will assist low-income students and students most impacted by the pandemic as stated in the bill when passed by Congress.
“(Senator Schumer’s) recognition and awareness of what New York Catholic schools have done during this pandemic and his recognition of the work Catholic schools have done was a contributing factor to his agreeing to recognize the extraordinary contributions and work the Catholic schools have done,” Deegan said.
“We did not have to convince him that our Catholic schools are important, valuable and essential to the country because of our history, particularly in the last year. So we demonstrated both to Senator Schumer and many elected officials in Washington that Catholic schools are now finally being recognized for their academic rigor and for the exceptional programs that Catholic schools run.”
Deegan said the deadline just passed to apply for federal aid from December’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act (CRRSA Act), which included the Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools with $2.75 billion for non-public schools.
Deegan is hopeful of what the federal funds will do for all Catholic school children. He said the money will go toward such things as extended learning days, after-school programs and summer school programs.
“It will allow us to provide remediation to children who have experienced learning gaps because of remote learning as well as enrichment programs above and beyond the academic learning that we will be providing to the children,” Deegan said.
The superintendent added that Catholic schools are also attempting to receive aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for “Covid-related expenses associated with opening and maintaining the health and safety protocols of our schools.”