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Highlights of Changes and MDE Updates in Response to COVID-19

CPAs & Business Consultants

Jennifer Watkins
Jennifer Watkins, CPA CPAs & Business Consultants

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Federal Funding

MDE issued a waiver for all schools for Title funding due to the recent Governor-mandated school closings due to COVID-19. This waiver allows schools flexibility in Title spending for students and teachers for technology purchases. Specifically, the waiver allows schools flexibility for:

  • Title I Funds:
    • To purchase Hot Spots and other internet access tools for students
    • To purchase devices for teacher use to support student learning
    • To purchase student devices (computers, iPads, etc.)
  • Title IIA Funds:
    • To support training for educators to help them learn how to deliver instruction and connect with students virtually
    • To support professional development opportunities delivered virtually to support goals identified in district improvement plans
    • To purchase devices needed to support the teacher trainings
  • Title IV Funds:
    • To support technology (devices, access, etc.)
    • To purchase more than the 15% limit normally applied for technology

For more information, refer to MDE’s memo, Flexibility in Title Funds for Technology

Charging employee salaries to federal programs

Schools may use federal funds to compensate employees who are currently paid from these sources. In other words, if a local education agency currently pays an employee using Title funds, it may continue to use Title funds to pay that employee during the period of closure.

Also, it is allowable to continue to charge salaries and benefits for special education staff teleworking and staff not working using IDEA Part B funds following the district’s policy of paying salaries from all funding sources, federal and non-federal. Staff would be paid from the same funding sources similarly as before the COVID-19 crisis and supported by time and effort documentation.

For more information and a Q&A, refer to the MDE’s memo, Use of Federal Title Funds During Mandated COVID-19 Closure

Nutrition Programs

MDE has requested a waiver for all Michigan school districts for statutory and regulatory requirements of the Child Nutrition Program. This includes a waiver for the Emergency Food Assistance Programs and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

MDE has also opened advance payments for school nutrition programs and is focused on providing meals during this time of crisis to all students in need.

Template for Continuity of Learning

MDE released a template for all local school districts and public school academies (PSAs) to develop a response for the Continuity of Learning during the COVID-19 crisis shutdown. Submissions must first go the local intermediate school districts (ISDs) for all local education agencies (LEAs) or the respective charter school authorizer for PSAs. The plan will also cover a budget outline for the new learning plan.

See MDE’s Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan Template.

State Aid Updates

Pupil Membership – October 2019 pupil count data (audited for most districts) and audited February 2019 counts were used in the calculation of the blended membership count for the March payment used to calculate Section 20 Foundation allowances.

See all MDE memos related to updates for COVID-19: MDE COVID-19 Updates

Special Note Related to GASB

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has also been providing updates due to concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. GASB is reviewing a proposed Statement that would postpone the effective dates of provisions in certain pronouncements. The proposal has tentatively identified provisions that became effective or will become effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2018, through Statement No. 92, Omnibus 2020, and Implementation Guide No. 2019-3, Leases. Particularly for schools, this is important as that includes Statement No. 84, Fiduciary Activities, and Statement No. 87, Leases.

Yeo & Yeo will continue to follow GASB changes and let you know when something has been finalized.

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