February 1, 2022

How much are Indiana schools spending in COVID relief? A new database tracks it

The new database from IDOE does not detail what the schools are spending the money on, but shows how much funding has been spent and how much remains. - (Eric Weddle/WFYI)

The new database from IDOE does not detail what the schools are spending the money on, but shows how much funding has been spent and how much remains.

(Eric Weddle/WFYI)

The Indiana Department of Education has launched a public database showing how much schools are spending in federal pandemic relief funding.

Indiana schools received a total of $2.8 billion in federal dollars through three rounds of stimulus through the CARES Act, a second stimulus bill under President Trump and the American Rescue Plan under President Biden. 

All of the aid is known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER. The aid must be spent by late 2024.

The funding has few restrictions, so districts can decide how best to spend the dollars to address student learning loss and continue operating through the pandemic. The dollars can be used to pay for tutors, social workers and longer school days, for example. And schools can also use it to invest in capital improvements, such as repairing ventilation systems.

School districts with larger shares of children from low-income families received more money.

Schools are required to post plans on their public websites of how district leaders will use the most recent round of funding, but district leaders decide what to include in the plans, and some have been far more detailed than others

WFYI created a database of school district’s spending plans submitted to the state. 

The new database from IDOE does not detail what the schools are spending the money on, but shows how much funding has been spent and how much remains. Schools are required to pay for the expenses up front, then request reimbursement through the IDOE. The database reflects processed reimbursement claims, not actual spending by the schools.

So far, the IDOE’s database shows schools have only been reimbursed for about $552 million in expenses. Fort Wayne Community Schools has been reimbursed for the most spending — $23.3 million — according to the database. That represents about 15 percent of the total funding Fort Wayne Community Schools received.

Perry Township Schools has been reimbursed for the second highest amount, with $19.2 million expended so far. The district has nearly $34 million left to spend.

But some schools that received lower dollar amounts have used nearly all the funding. Sheridan Community Schools, for example, only has about $14,000 of its $555,000 allocation remaining, according to the database.

Contact WFYI education and health digital editor Lindsey Erdody at lerdody@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @lerdody.

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