Look Where COVID Relief Money Really Went
(ConservativeInsider.org) – When kids were first sent home from school in March 2020, most Americans expected them to be back within a few weeks. But, the pandemic quickly closed most public schools to in-person learning in the following months, with many not even opening their buildings at all during the 2020-21 school year. However, those same institutions received billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds during this time. The question is, what did they do with that money?
Congress Sent Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to Schools
The Constitution clearly gives the responsibility of educating children to the states, which is then typically funded through property taxes. In an unprecedented move, though, Congress sent $13.2 billion to various schools when President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act in March 2020. The following December, another stimulus bill gave $54.3 billion to districts. Finally, President Joe Biden supported the American Rescue Plan that saw $122 billion designated to education in March 2021.
The first of these bills will run out this September, with the final provisions running out in 2024.
Where Do Most Schools Use This Money?
According to FutureEd, an independent think tank located at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, approximately 60% of schools that received federal funding are using some of it for expanding or retaining their staff through higher salaries, bonuses, and better benefits. This retention push comes as teachers are in short supply after the incredibly hard school years recently.
New: How public schools are spending their Covid stimulus funds.
Lots of the $ is going to teacher salaries despite enrollment losses, setting schools up to face potential lay-offs when the funds run out in 2024. https://t.co/nU7ccT4ztF
— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) August 17, 2022
Many experts are nervous that these professionals will not be able to stay at the schools after the money runs out in a few years, as local school funding is typically allocated based on enrollment. As more families choose to homeschool their children or opt for private schools, public school funding could plummet. Many schools also used large portions of the money to boost distance learning accessibility.
Some Schools Spent a Little Differently
According to an October 2021 report from the Associated Press, some school districts used the money to fund long-awaited sports projects, from new football fields to a fresh outdoor track. Iowa’s Roland-Story Community School District spent $100,000 of its relief dollars to renovate its weight room, including branded flooring. They labeled it a “major health and safety improvement.”
While many believe these choices go against the intent of the bill, they were still able to be used if schools argue it helps students’ physical or mental health, both things that were poorly affected by the pandemic.
Critics of such choices by schools emphasize the money — every single dollar of which comes from taxpayers — should be used for tutoring, minimizing class sizes, and other items that have been proven to prepare children for their future.
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