Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to provide the public with clear details as to how nearly $200 billion in emergency COVID-19 relief for K-12 education is being disbursed. As of the start of this year, 86 percent of these emergency funds still had yet to be spent.
“Some states like Iowa have focused on getting those dollars to the students and educators they are intended to help. Out of the $1.9 billion awarded to Iowa, over half – at $812 million – has already gone out the door to help ensure that students can learn safely and effectively. Our state is leading the pack,” Grassley wrote.
“Now with students everywhere joining Iowa and finally back to learning in-person, I am concerned that funds will inherently be spent on things that are less and less related to Congress’s initial intentions for this emergency funding. In fact, some statutory requirements may become impossible to meet if they are not met soon,” Grassley continued.
With extraordinary pandemic measures expiring across the country, Grassley expressed concern over how the Department of Education will ensure that funds get where they are needed, if they are needed, rather than letting emergency dollars languish in bureaucratic limbo. Therefore, Grassley requested Secretary Cardona answer the following questions:
- When does the Department estimate that all COVID emergency education funding will be spent?
- What is the administration actively doing to help states get these funds where they need to go in a timely manner?
- If the CBO is correct that funds will continue being spent until fiscal year 2028, how does the Department plan to recommend addressing learning loss when students will have likely been in the classroom for over six years?
- The three relief bills were passed to provide funding to schools in the midst of a national emergency. Does the Department have any plans to retrieve unspent money or stop approving new COVID-related expenditures or otherwise change how funding is to be spent after the cessation of the COVID-19 National Emergency?