A new report by a watchdog group reveals the extent of how many schools abused their COVID-19 relief funds to instead pay teachers even more despite not returning to work.
According to the Washington Examiner, the report by FutureEd reveals that many schools still haven’t completely spent the money that they received as a result of three major stimulus bills passed in 2020. Following Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan,” at least $190 billion has been allocated exclusively for schools. But as of October, schools nationwide have spent less than 15 percent of the money given to them through the American Rescue Plan.
Of the money that has been spent by schools up to this point, the majority of it has gone towards hiring more teachers, raising their salaries, and even offering bonuses, thus “making teachers the single largest investment under the plan nationwide,” the report states.
While some have advocated for greater spending on teachers in order to place an emphasis on helping students regain lost learning time, others have been critical of such a move due to many teachers’ unions taking advantage of the pandemic to ask for even more benefits, even some that had nothing to do with the pandemic.
“If it was so urgent during COVID that they have additional resources, then why didn’t they use it?” asked Jonathan Butcher, a fellow in education at the Heritage Foundation. “If you use this money to pay for more positions, then you’re setting yourself up for what they call a fiscal cliff.”
“At the most basic level, there’s the mismatch of choosing to use one-time federal money to buy things that commit the district to spend money beyond this year and next,” said Marguerite Rosa, the director of Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab. “Case in point: using temporary funds to hire a slew of new employees, most with an expectation of continued employment, steady salary raises, and future retirement benefits.”