An unprecedented amount of money is flowing from the federal government to the K-12 schools and the counties plan to spend it on it Summer schools, tutoring programs and, in some places, teacher bonuses.
About $ 128 billion was approved by Congress as part of in March the most recent stimulusThis is almost double the amount sent to K-12 schools by the previous two aid packages for Covid-19. The money comes at a time when schools, some of which are chronically underfunded, are facing the unprecedented challenge of getting all students back into the classroom for face-to-face lessons five days a week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of focusing on air conditioning upgrades, PPE and other emergencies should be provided, The law stipulates that some of the new money must be used to combat learning losses, which may include extended school days, tutors or summer schools.
With this limitation aside, schools have the flexibility to spend the money on a wide range of pandemic needs State education agencies can decide how to spend about 10% of the pot. Some of this can be used for one-off purchases like hand sanitizer, while others may support a teacher’s salary that is paid over time. You don’t have to spend all that money until 2024.
The massive inflow of funds should lead to this help schools get back to normalbut could also help fix some of the pre-pandemic issues. However, the decentralized nature of the US school system makes it difficult to keep track of how exactly the districts are spending the money.
Here’s what we know about what schools are getting and how they could spend it.
How much money do they get?
Congress has included more than $ 192 billion for K-12 schools – roughly six times the federal funding for fiscal year 2021 – in the three major Covid relief laws passed since last March.
Each bill sent more money to K-12 schools than the last.
When the pandemic first emerged, the CARES bill approved about $ 13 billion for K-12 schools, or about $ 270 per student. The bill passed in December delivered around $ 54 billion, or $ 1,100 per student, and the most recent package saw spending of $ 128 billion, which equates to $ 2,600 per student, according to Phyllis Jordan, editor-in-chief a non-partisan think tank in Georgetown University called FutureEd.
Not every school will receive the same amount. The law instructs states to pay out the money as it did when funding Title I, which means more money goes to districts with a higher percentage of low-income families.
The money goes to both public and private schools. While the first two auxiliary bills pulled the money together, the latest package offers $ 125 billion for K-12 public schools and a separate pot worth $ 2.75 billion for private schools.
The law included some provisions to ensure that states and municipalities spend no less of their own budget on education than they normally would because schools receive more federal funding.
When do the schools get the money?
Schools should get the money within the next two months from the last bill, which was passed in March – but it varies by state. The funds initially flow to the state education agencies, which pay out the money to the local school districts.
The Ministry of Education On March 24, less than two weeks after President Joe Biden signed the law, about two-thirds of the money was released to states. The remaining funds will be made available after a state presents its plan for using the money.
The law states that states have 60 days to distribute the money to districts “as far as practicable”.
What can the money be spent on?
Government agencies have to send 90% of the funds directly to the school districts and are not allowed to further restrict the use of the funds.
The local school district must reserve 20% of the money for the learning loss intervention. This can be a tutoring program, a summer school or extended school days.
“As stipulated by law, it’s pretty flexible. A lot could fall under learning loss, like PPE and teacher salaries, ”said Noelle Ellerson Ng, associate general manager, advocacy and governance at AASA, The School Superintendents Association.
There are also few restrictions on the remaining money. The law states that it can be spent on things like sanitation, technology, mental health services, and ventilation systems, to name a few.
Government education agencies also face some constraints on how they spend the money allocated to them: 5% on learning losses, 1% on summer enrichment, and 1% on after-school programs.
What have the schools already spent the money on?
Schools spent a large portion of the money from the first auxiliary bill passed a year ago on PPE, cleaning supplies, technology and learning management systems that helped students study from home, salaries and wages – according to a Association of School Business Officials poll carried out in February.
The primary uses for the money approved in December have shifted more to tackling learning loss, but technology, salaries and wages have remained at the forefront.
Extra money for broadband, tests and students with disabilities
The latest Covid bill to improve internet connectivity in homes and libraries approved a separate $ 7.2 billion funding. It is designed to help students study remotely when they need to do their homework.
The bill gave an additional $ 10 billion to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help schools run Covid tests for students and staff, and added $ 3 billion to a fund within the Department of Education to help students with disabilities.
An additional $ 800 million has been allocated to help students affected by homelessness – a provision that was not in previous relief laws and is inconsistent with typical emergency relief plans for weather-related disasters, said Phillip Lovell, vice president of policy development and Government Relations with the Alliance for Excellent Education, a group committed to ensuring that all students graduate from high school.
“It was a sad oversight, but Congress eventually realized that they had to do something to support homeless children,” added Lovell.