Posted by Katie Lobosco, CNN

(CNN) – Congress approves more than $ 190 billion to help America’s schools reopen and stay open during the pandemic – and while much of the funding has been used to buy PPE, improve ventilation, and promote summer school programs, billions of dollars remain to be spent.

Many local school authorities have not yet decided how to use the final round of funds released in March. In most states, districts are required to submit an expense plan between mid-August and mid-September, which will be refunded when the money is used.

“I am both compassionate and frustrated with the district’s current spending rate,” said Marguerite Roza, professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and director of the Edunomics Lab research center.

The Covid aid money – which comes from three different laws – is a huge federal investment of roughly six times the core funding for fiscal year 2021. Congress gave schools more than three years to spend the newest and largest round of cash with few conditions. It is unlikely to be spent all at once, especially if used on teacher salaries or capital improvements that are paid over time.

The money should help schools provide safe, personal tuition for all students new challenges to keep kids in the classroom this fall as the delta variant spreads and families await vaccine approval for children under 12.

Schools in Texas have already topped the highest weekly number of Covid cases from last year. A Lack of bus drivers in Chicago, partly because of Resignation due to vaccination mandate, left families in search of transportation. Parents are frustrated and in some places have it Push school councils into heated debate about masks and vaccines, which fuel interest in local elections.

Here’s what we know about what schools are getting and how they are spending it.

How much money do schools get?

Not every school gets the same amount of money. The law tells states to pay out the money like Title I funding, meaning more money goes to districts with more low-income families. Some districts with very low poverty rates do not receive direct Covid aid funding – but may be eligible for some funding at the discretion of the state.

When the pandemic first broke out, the CARES bill approved about $ 13 billion for K-12 schools, or about $ 270 per student. The bill, passed in December, provided roughly $ 54 billion, or $ 1,100 per student, and the latest and greatest package, the American Rescue Plan, saw spending of $ 128 billion, according to an analysis by FutureEd amount to $ 2,600 per student. another non-partisan think tank at Georgetown University.

Schools spent a large portion of the money from the first relief law, passed a year ago, on PPE, cleaning supplies, technology, and learning management systems that helped students study from home, as well as salaries and wages – so a survey by the Association of School Management Officials carried out in February.

How can schools spend the money?

About 20% of the money a district receives goes to dealing with learning losses – this can include tutoring programs, summer schools, or extended school days in the future.

There are few other constraints on funding, however, so it is largely up to local school authorities to decide how to spend it on a wide range of pandemic-related needs.

The law states that it can be spent on things like plumbing, technology, mental health services, and ventilation systems, to name a few. However, it is not certain that all plans will be fully implemented – especially when it comes to hiring more teachers and counselors who may be hard to find.

Districts are required to solicit public contributions on the use of the money, although public relations efforts vary. Many school authorities discussed spending in public meetings throughout the summer. The topic is often referred to on agendas as the Elementary and Middle School Emergency Fund or ESSER.

States are allowed to keep 10% of the Covid education aid and decide how the money is paid out. They had to file an application with the Ministry of Education earlier this year and will receive the last third of the money once it’s approved. The department has 33 approved so far.

Expenditure plans: tutoring, psychological counseling, renovations

The decentralized nature of the US school system makes it difficult to keep track of how exactly the districts spend the money. A recent poll from the School Superintendents Association noted that the majority of districts plan to use the funds for support staff, technology for Internet access, and professional development for educators. Other top priorities are high-intensity tutoring, additional study time through remuneration of staff for longer working hours and the renovation of facilities.

The Detroit Public School District, For example, plans to use Covid aid funds to give teachers a one-time bonus, tutoring, expanding mental health services, making improvements to facilities, and reducing class size by hiring more teachers.

But not every use can be justified. The Illinois State Board of Education recently rejected the plan of a district,o Use Covid aid dollars for an artificial surface on his soccer field.

The CNN Wire
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