Leave it to the federal government to mess up or create more confusion, especially when it comes to pandemic relief funding. The Department of Education, run by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, recently issued guidance on how school districts should use federal funds.
The 74 reported that the federal agency released a ninety-seven page document which encouraged districts to not spend funds on construction projects.
But school districts are already spending the federal funds on construction projects, such as new athletic fields in Milwaukee, Wisconsin or renovation of weight rooms in Perry County Schools in Alabama.
These federal funds must be spent by 2024, and without federal guidance, school districts went ahead and planned projects accordingly.
The Department of Education document said that the agency would not allow these projects unless the school districts connect the project to pandemic preparedness and response. Yet the agency’s slow response, despite requests for guidance from school districts nationwide, is to blame. Also compounding the problem is that the federal agency has yet to hold webinars and discussions to explain the long document to school districts.
Predictably, the agency said that their guidance is consistent with past statements and documents.
There are concerns that school districts used the federal funds to temporarily boost teacher and staff pay because it will run out in 2024. After that point, teachers and staff pay will go back to previous levels, unless the school district adds more funding out of its own coffers.