The vast majority of that money has NOT been spent…
The kids ARE back in school…
In March 2021, the Biden administration released the federal government’s largest pool of pandemic relief for public schools. The American Rescue Plan infused campuses with $122 billion to reopen buildings, address mental health needs and help students who had fallen behind academically.
The need was so urgent that two-thirds of the money — $81 billion — was released less than two weeks after the plan was signed into law and before the Education Department could approve each state’s spending plan.
But despite having access to the dollars, school systems throughout the country reported spending less than 15 percent of the federal funding, known as ESSER III, the most recent installment of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, during the 2021-2022 school year, according to a Washington Post analysis of data collected by Edunomics, an education finance group at Georgetown University.
The spending rates varied considerably between states, and even among school districts within a state. But the trend of a slow rollout was especially apparent in some of the school districts that have incurred the steepest learning losses in English and math, according to the data. About half of the 211 districts The Post examined, where Edunomics estimates students are the furthest behind, spent 5 percent or less of their ESSER III money last school year, the data shows.
Meanwhile, national test scores in elementary school math and readinghave plunged to levels that haven’t been seen in decades, and education advocates worry that children continue to fall behind. “The excuse in education has always been, ‘We don’t have enough money,’” said Keri Rodrigues, president of education advocacy group the National Parents Union. “Now we have a historic amount of spending, like never before, and you’re not even spending the money.”….
School district leaders, however, insist they are making progress — particularly this school year as they plan to dip deeper into the remaining money. The vast majority of funds have already been committed to “critical needs,” such as addressing student mental health and reversing learning loss, and will be spent over the next two years, according to the White House and outside analyses of thousands of school districts’ spending plans. Many expenses, such as staff salaries, can only be drawn down gradually, officials added.
And in many cases districts are still spending earlier waves of federal funding, a total of $67.5 billion released during the Trump administration that helped schools pivot to virtual learning and retrofit buildings to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The White House said the passage of the American Rescue Plan expedited spending of those earlier rounds, and overall monthly pandemic education spending increased eightfold between February 2021 and August 2022.
Districts also explain the slow rate of spending by pointing to staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions that have made it difficult to fulfill their plans, as well as bureaucratic hurdles and reporting lags….