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Our team at The Reform Alliance knows that schools we serve are facing tough financial challenges. On a daily basis, we are connecting with partners across the nation to stay updated on the latest resources to help in Arkansas.

As many of you know, Congress and President Trump enacted legislation to provide relief for our Country. Private schools have not been forgotten in the relief efforts.

We will provide updates from across the state and nation as we receive them, and welcome any insight you have that may help other Arkansas schools as they cope with this economic crisis.

If you haven't already bookmarked the ADE Covid-19 web page , we highly recommend that resource for the latest published Arkansas guidance and other informative tools.

In this first update, we are pleased to share information from CAPE. It is one of the national organizations including the USCCB, NCEA, Agudath Israel of America, MPPI, NAIS and ACSI working in in the halls of Congress to make sure private schools are not forgotten in their time of need.
Education Stabilization Fund: 
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed "phase 3" COVID-19 relief legislation carrying an unprecedented $2 trillion price tag, which is larger than the federal government’s entire annual budget for discretionary spending and is roughly one-tenth the size of the American economy. Included in this package is $13.5 billion in grants to states for K-12 schools, part of a broader "Education Stabilization Fund."

The law requires equitable services to be provided to private schools under this program.

The legislation lists twelve categories of permissible uses of the funds  here . State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) should not begin making plans for the dispersal of these funds until the US Department of Education releases guidance on implementation of the new law, which is expected in the coming days.
Education Stabilization Fund: 
Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund
The Education Stabilization Fund in the phase 3 bill, or "CARES Act," also includes $3 billion for governors to provide emergency support to schools most impacted by coronavirus.

The law requires equitable services to be provided to private schools under this program as well.

USDE guidance is forthcoming, but in the meantime, private schools need to work to ensure that Governor Hutchinson and his team are aware of their needs.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
One piece of the CARES Act that is receiving a tremendous amount of attention is its  Paycheck Protection Program . The new law provides $350 billion for federally guaranteed loans to small employers (under 500 employees), nonprofits are eligible. The portion of the loan used for maintaining payroll has the potential to be forgiven.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA): "You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.  Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. " It is expected that loans will be disbursed on a first come, first served basis. A sample application form can be found  here .

Since passage of the CARES Act, private school advocates have argued that Small Business Administration guidance is needed to clarify:

1) Whether use of these loans will lead to recipient of "federal financial assistance" status and the obligations that come with that;

2) Whether these loans can be used to pay the salaries of teachers involved in religious instruction; and

3) In the case of Catholic schools, whether the 500 employee limit will be based on the number of employees at a particular school or the number of employees in the diocese.

On April 2, the Treasury Department released guidance which references certain religious liberty protections ( see pages 27-28 ) and announces that further guidance on religious liberty will be released "promptly."

I hope this information has been helpful to you. Please don't hesitate to reach out to The Reform Alliance if you have information or updates that you would like us to share in Arkansas with other schools to help them weather this storm.


Laurie Lee, Chairman of the Board
The Reform Alliance
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