During the pandemic, Congress appropriated more than $190 billion to assist America’s schools in reopening and remaining open. While a large portion of the funds was used to purchase protective equipment, upgrade the ventilation, and expand summer school programs, there are still billions left to be spent. Numerous school boards have not yet made a decision on how to allocate the most current batch of money, which was issued in March. For the most part, districts are expected to submit a budget proposal between the middle of August and the middle of September, and they will be paid after the funds are spent.
Schools Have Billions Of Dollars In Federal Covid Disaster Relief Funds
In all, the Covid relief funds, which came from three separate pieces of legislation, represent a massive government commitment equivalent to almost 6 times the amount of base budget for the fiscal year 2021. School districts were given more than 3 years to spend the most recent and largest tranche of money from Congress, with minimal restrictions. Especially if the funds are used for teacher salaries or capital upgrades that will be paid for overtime, it is doubtful that they would be spent entirely at once. Despite the fact that the majority of schools have reopened, many are experiencing additional difficulties in keeping pupils in the classroom this fall as the Delta variant expands and families wait for vaccination clearance for children under the age of twelve.
Schools in Texas already have exceeded the greatest weekly total of Covid cases from the previous year, according to Covid. Families in Chicago are rushing to find transportation as a result of a scarcity of bus drivers, which is partially due to resignations over a vaccination requirement. Frustrated parents have forced school boards into a heated discussion about masks and vaccinations in certain areas, which has increased interest in local elections. And here is what we know about the funding that schools are receiving and how they are allocating their funds.
It is not all schools that will get the identical amount of money. The legislation requires states to distribute the money in the same manner that they handle Title I funds, which implies that more money will go to districts with a higher concentration of low-income households. However, certain districts, particularly those with very low poverty rates, may not get any direct Covid relief money. Still, they may be eligible for other monies that are left to the discretion of the state government instead.
According to the CDC, when the pandemic initially broke out, the CARES Act allowed about $13 billion towards K-12 schools or approximately $270 per student. Several nonpartisan think tanks, including FutureEd at Georgetown University, have conducted analyses of recent legislation. The bill that passed in December provided $54 billion, or $1,100 per pupil, and the most recent and largest package, the American Rescue Plan, permitted for $128 billion in spending, which translates to $2,600 per pupil, according to an analysis by FutureEd.
According to a survey conducted by the Association of School Business Officials in February, schools spent a significant portion of the money from the first relief bill, which was passed a year ago, on personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, new tech, and learning management systems that allowed students to learn from home, as well as salaries and wages.