K-12 COVID federal taxpayer and borrowed $plurge

Phyllis Jordan:

These are among the findings of a FutureEd analysis of the Covid-relief spending plans of nearly 2,100 school districts and charter school organizations in 48 states, local education agencies serving some 40 percent of the nation’s public-school students.*

The analysis covers districts and charters receiving $46 billion of the $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funds under the American Rescue Plan and offers the most comprehensive picture to date of local and regional Covid-relief spending. Burbio, a data service that measures school openings and spending, gathered the local plans from a range of public sources as of Dec. 23 and sorted the proposed spending into more than 100 categories.

The ESSER funding was distributed via the federal Title I aid formula, which supports low-income students. As a result, some school districts serving impoverished communities have received more than $10,000 per student in Covid-relief aid while others have received little or no funding.

Local school districts and charters have wide latitudein using the funds, as long as the spending is geared toward reopening schools safely and helping students recover from the pandemic. States must monitor local spending, and the federal government can audit district and charter school spending, as well.