Colorado Catholic Conference

CO Department of Education Withholds COVID-19 Relief Funds for Catholic Schools

Colorado Department of Education chooses to disregard federal guidance for COVID-19 relief funding to assist nonpublic schools, including Catholic schools, significantly limiting support Catholic schools are eligible to receive to serve their families.

Action: Contact Your State Legislator to Request the Colorado Department of Education Release COVID-19 Relief Funding for Nonpublic Schools Based on Federal Guidance

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27 to provide economic emergency financial assistance for individuals, businesses, and institutions (such as schools) impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The CARES Act included an Education Stabilization Fund with two grants: the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The CARES Act requires equitable services for nonpublic schools under both grants.

However, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is disregarding federal guidance in the distribution of relief funds to nonpublic schools – including our Catholic schools.

The CDE interprets CARES Act funding for nonpublic schools based on the number of students in their schools whose families are at or below the federal poverty line. This is not consistent with the intent of CARES.

All students and teachers in a nonpublic school are eligible to receive equitable services under the CARES Act programs, without regard to family income, residency, or eligibility based on low achievement.

Without a fair share of relief funding for our Catholic schools, our already financially stretched Catholic schools will be faced with an additional hardship in trying to absorb the expenses needed to ensure schools can reopen safely and continue to provide a quality education to students in the midst of a pandemic.

Catholic education has played an important role in being a safe haven for families and lifting many from poverty to a more hopeful future.  However, the long-term sustainability of the mission of Catholic schools in our state is threatened as a result of the economic devastation facing many families who are now unable to make tuition payments that sustain our schools and parishes that are unable to provide financial support from Sunday collection. Sadly, if Catholic schools are forced to close many families will be unable to give their children the education option that is best for them.

The result of Colorado Department of Education’s careless disregard of funding for nonpublic schools has adverse consequences for all Coloradans. Our Catholic schools simply need access to what the law intended for them to receive.

To read Colorado Department of Education (CDE) interpretation of federal guidance for nonpublic schools, click here. 
To read US Department of Education guidance for nonpublic schools, click here.
To read US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ letter addressing federal guidance, click here.
To read Governor Polis’ executive order on CARES relief funds, click here.
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