The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) is urging residents across the commonwealth to ask Gov. Tom Wolf and Pa. Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera not to divert funds from the federal CARES Act, the $2.3 trillion emergency aid package enacted March 27 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, from Catholic and nonpublic schools.

Wolf announced May 13 that Pennsylvania’s request for $523.8 million in “one-time federal emergency funds to help schools respond to COVID-19 impacts” had been approved by the U.S. Department of Education under the CARES Act. 

The PCC in a statement May 18 said the governor and the Pa. Education Department “are looking to take most of the funding that Congress wants distributed equitably in COVID-19 relief to ALL schools in PA and across the country.” 

While the Pa. Catholic Conference cited the federal funding level as $471 million, PCC Education Director Sean McAleer said the state education department “created its own set of rules to distribute that money that blatantly ignores federal guidance. The end result significantly lowers the amounts to be given to Catholic and nonpublic school students.”

He said although the federal aid package calls for $66 million for Catholic and nonpublic schools students, “the Wolf administration is calling for roughly $19 million” for them.

McAleer charged that the administration “is misappropriating some $47 million in federal funds and harming families who have chosen to send their children to Catholic and nonpublic schools.” 

“Catholic and nonpublic school students matter,” said McAleer, who added the PCC is asking Wolf and Rivera to follow the federal guidelines.

“In a time when thousands of Pennsylvania’s children and families are suffering and struggling to make ends meet, the administration has chosen to cause further harm by refusing to allocate money as directed by the federal government.”

The PCC offered this link for people to contact Wolf and Rivera and urge them not to divert federal CARES Act funding from Catholic and nonpublic schools. 

Contact information for Gov. Wolf can be found here, and contact information for one’s state representative and state senator can be found here.