Weekly NewsBrief 8/30/21 - 9/5/21

News Clip


Schools Are Getting Billions In COVID Relief Money. Here's How They Plan To Spend It – By Cory Turner, NPR

New staff, new tech and even new classrooms — that's just some of what school superintendents across the country are buying with the windfall of COVID-19 relief dollars Congress has sent their way since the pandemic began. Those are the findings of a new survey of hundreds of school leaders put together by the national School Superintendents Association, or AASA.

Before we get to the survey, though, some context:

Congress has approved essentially three big buckets of money for K-12 schools to help cover their pandemic costs: $13 billion from the CARES Act of March 2020, $54 billion from a December follow-up relief package and a whopping $122 billion from the American Rescue Plan, passed in March.

The American Rescue Plan is "huge," said Georgetown University's Marguerite Roza, who studies school finance. "It is for sure the largest one-time federal investment in public education in this country."

"This is year 26 for me in public education," said Keith Perrigan, superintendent of schools in Bristol, Va., a small, rural district on the border with Tennessee. "You can take all of the extra dollars in the first 25 years [of my career], add them all up, and it's not even close in comparison to the amount of money we received in the last 10 months."


Ida’s ‘catastrophic’ wrath has shut schools in several more states – By Matt Zalaznick, District Administration

Flooding and tornadoes spawned by Ida closed dozens of schools across the Northeastern U.S. after the powerful hurricane shuttered several New Orleans-area districts indefinitely.

The storm was no longer a hurricane by the time it began its rampage in Maryland and the wider Washington, D.C. area Wednesday afternoon. But Ida’s torrential and historic rains blocked roads and swamped buildings while tornadoes devastated a few communities throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Closures in the Northeast were not likely to last as long as those in Louisiana. But here are some of the communities where schools couldn’t open their doors Thursday:

“Throughout our entire area there is significant devastation,” the Mamaroneck Union Free School District said on its website Thursday.

The district, just north of New York City, was closed Thursday due to heavy flooding and as of Thursday afternoon, administrators had not yet decided when schools would reopen after the “catastrophic storm.”

Just to the south, flooding in several buildings forced Port Chester Public Schools to postpone the first day of school until Sept. 9, Superintendent Aurelia L. Henriquez posted on the district’s website.


Weekly COVID testing could limit spread in Colorado schools, state officials say - By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat

As cases of COVID in young children rise steeply, Colorado public health officials say it’s important to test all students and staff weekly to help reduce disease transmission. Colorado has allocated $173 million of federal relief money to provide schools with free rapid tests and help in setting up testing programs.

“Our goal with this program is to decrease the spread of COVID-19 within our schools by trying to identify symptomatic and asymptomatic spread as quickly as possible,” said Sarah Hamma, who heads up COVID community testing and vendor partnerships for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We are aiming to ensure students can continue in-person learning as safely as possible and minimize the number of disruptions from disease transmission.”

So far, 447 schools representing 22 school districts, some private schools, and the state Charter School Institute, which oversees state-authorized charter schools, have signed up for the testing program. That represents about 20% of Colorado’s 2,300 public and private K-12 schools.

Participating districts include the Fort Collins-based Poudre district, Greeley-Evans, Adams 14, and Mapleton, as well as many small rural districts such as Mancos, Ignacio, and Lamar.


Albuquerque schools budget for teacher loans, fewer students – By Cedar Attanasio, Associated Press

New Mexico’s largest school district wants to use federal pandemic funding to prevent staff layoffs.

A proposal from Albuquerque Public Schools released Monday would direct $50 million in pandemic relief to offset a loss of state money tied to enrollment decline.

Superintendent Scott Elder said in a video conference the district lost around 5,000 students and around $50 million in state funding.

“One of the big points of federal money was to allow districts a year to try to stabilize themselves, and without having to do massive layoffs,” Elder said.

If adopted in the final budget, that stabilization would account for 25% of the nearly $200 million the district gets in the next and largest round of federal relief funds for schools.


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