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HomeEducationWhat's holding districts from spending COVID reduction funding?

What’s holding districts from spending COVID reduction funding?


2020 and 2021 noticed $190 billion in federal reduction funds go to colleges by means of the Elementary and Secondary College Emergency Aid Fund (ESSER).

However why aren’t faculties spending the cash? The reply–or, extra precisely, solutions–presents a glimpse into the sophisticated state of post-COVID training.

Districts obtained funds based mostly on their Title I funding, and ESSER funds have to be spent by September 2024. Whereas many districts have deliberate how they’ll use their funding, they haven’t really spent it so far.

COVID continues to throw a wrench in plans

New COVID variants inflicting new waves of infections have continued to complicate districts’ plans.

In line with a report from AASA, superintendents should collaborate with quite a few stakeholders as they develop spending plans. Whereas they’re capable of rethink spending selections, it’s sophisticated–many districts might wait till late spring after they should finalize native budgets to rethink or alter their ARP spending priorities as nicely.

The AASA report notes that “the Delta and Omicron variant sophisticated many districts’ plans to doubtlessly shift gears within the 2022-23 college yr since studying restoration efforts have been sophisticated in the course of the fall and winter of 2021 because of labor shortages, short-term college closures and the necessity to proceed investing closely in PPE and different pandemic-related provides and wishes.”

Continued waves of an infection have pressured many districts to alternate between in-person, hybrid, and fully-online studying. Many districts nonetheless haven’t totally assessed the place studying gaps exist and what college students must catch up academically, emotionally, and socially. Till a clearer photos emerges–an image that continuously modifications as COVID modifications–spending COVID reduction funds to shut studying gaps stays unpredictable.

“We’ve spent all of this yr figuring out the place the gaps are, what our children did or didn’t study in the course of the closures, what they want now, what the social and emotional points are, and the place the challenges to their studying are,” mentioned Dr. Kenny Rodrequez, superintendent of Missouri’s Grandview C-4 College District.

“We had plan, and a reasonably good concept, however we needed to regularly plan and alter based mostly on what we noticed with our children. You’re making a plan for one thing that’s continuously in movement and continuously altering,” he mentioned.

Provide chain points make it troublesome to spend the funds earlier than their September 2024 expiration

AASA’s report additionally notes that districts are having hassle spending their reduction funds on HVAC and capital enhancements in class and district buildings. A majority of district leaders say they plan to make use of the funding for such enhancements, however greater than half say utilizing the funds for infrastructure and HVAC upgrades might be troublesome given provide chain points, labor and materials shortages, and present timelines and venture paces.

States are gradual to get the cash to districts

The funds include necessities, and following and documenting these necessities could be an concerned course of.

“The {dollars} have so many rules and record-keeping–they’ll solely be spent a sure means, so there needs to be coordination with the entire oversight,” mentioned Dr. Curtis Finch, superintendent of Arizona’s Deer Valley Unified College District.

Laura Ascione
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