TRENTON – Another $923 million in federal funds to support New Jersey schools recovering from the pandemic is on its way to the state, bringing the total since last year to more than $4 billion.

The U.S. Department of Education today announced it had approved the state’s plan for how it will implement the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program from the American Rescue Plan. That’s the stimulus bill enacted in March.

The ESSER funds are intended to help schools safely reopen and sustain those operations, as well as address the academic, emotional and social impacts the pandemic has had on students.

Here’s a link to a chart showing how much money will be allocated to each local school district and charter school in New Jersey.

Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan said the state’s education community has “demonstrated exceptional resilience and grace in the face of unprecedented challenges.”

“New Jersey’s ARP ESSER state plan represents a significant step in our state’s road forward to empowering students, educators, and schools to safely return to in-person learning while addressing the academic, social, emotional, and mental health impacts of COVID-19,” Allen-McMillan said.

Among the initiatives planned are “acceleration coach and educator support” grants to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, with extra money for younger grades, students with lower incomes and students with limited English proficiency, as well as summer learning academies and afterschool supports such as tutoring.

This is the third batch of ESSER funds distributed by the federal government in response to the pandemic. The CARES Act approved in March 2020 provided $310 million, the CRRSA Act approved in December 2020 provided $1.23 billion, and ARP is providing $2.7 billion.

Get our free mobile app

Two-thirds of the ARP ESSER funding arrived earlier in the year, but the final third was contingent on federal approval of the state’s plan. Twenty-eight state plans have been approved so far, including New Jersey and five others today.

“I am excited to announce approval of New Jersey’s plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year.

READ MORE: What's in the infrastructure package for New Jersey?

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure package approved by the Senate would provide New Jersey around $12.4 billion in guaranteed spending, with some categories of spending to be allocated later and opportunities to seek billions more in funding through a variety of programs.

Beautiful sunflower fields to visit in NJ 2021

Among reasons why the “Garden State” remains a fitting nickname for New Jersey — late summer means the arrival of sunflower season.

There are at least six fields, spanning the state. Some are in bloom as of early August, while others are planned to peak from late August to late September.

Calling or emailing before heading out is always advisable if weather appears to be an issue.