|Schools' covid-aid spending 'speeding up'|
School districts nationwide are spending the $122bn in federal Covid-relief funds nearly twice as fast as they were, according to new data from the Department of Education. Districts have spent about 27% of the education funding that was part of the $1.9tn American Rescue Plan disbursed in 2021, an increase from May when federal data showed 7% of the money was spent. They are now spending $5.1bn in federal relief funding each month, up from $2.6bn a month a year ago, according to estimates compiled by researchers at Georgetown University. Some districts are spending faster than others however. Nevada’s schools have spent about 32% so far, while Arizona has spent 23%. In Chicago, officials have spent about 32% of the funding, with about 77% of the district’s federal pandemic relief money going to salaries and employee benefits. New York City’s school system, the largest in the U.S., has used about the same percentage, spending more than $1.5bn of the $4.8bn it received. New York City is allocating just over 30% of the money for academic recovery efforts such as literacy programs. Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, says the loss of federal relief money when it expires in the fall of 2024, coupled with enrollment declines and the possibility of recession, could create a very challenging financial situation for public schools. “We won’t know, for a while, how all the different variables will shake out,” she cautions.