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U.S. Relief Package Sends Billions to K-12 Schools
March 30, 2021 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
After decades of struggling under the weight of deferred building maintenance, the nation’s K-12 school districts took another gut punch one year ago in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools shut down, and questions grew over the condition of schools and their role in protecting occupant health. Now, just when the situation looked to be at its bleakest, the federal government is providing much-needed financial support.
Schools across the United States will receive a massive infusion of money in the coming months thanks to a pandemic relief package that includes $128 billion for K-12 education, according to Chalkbeat. The result is a dramatic reversal in fortune for school budgets. The new money comes to nearly $2,500 per student nationwide.
Districts will have broad latitude to use the money for anything from buying masks to keeping teachers employed to setting up an after-school program. Nearly $3 billion is earmarked to support students with disabilities.
If schools use the money for recurring costs — such as hiring or raises — that could lead to a so-called funding cliff requiring painful cuts when the money runs out. Experts suggest that schools should instead consider expenses like building repairs or extended school day programs that use existing staff.
Dan Hounsell is editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.