To the Editor:
Given articles like “Schools Are Flush With Stimulus Money. Will They Waste It on Unproven Technology?” (April 21, 2021) regarding the influx of federal education recovery funds and how school districts are spending those funds, it is appropriate to highlight the complexities that school district leaders are navigating as they seek to invest these dollars efficiently to support students’ wide range of needs.
School business professionals look at revenues and expenditures for their district over a multiyear time frame and must prepare as best they can for unforeseen developments while allocating resources responsibly, in alignment with the district’s commitment to provide a quality education for all students.
As school districts plan how to spend these one-time federal dollars, which have a myriad of allowable uses, it is important to understand these funds will be invested in many ways depending on local needs. Also, as these funds are used for different purposes, the rate at which districts obligate and spend down these funds will differ. Just because a district has not spent all its federal aid immediately doesn’t mean the funds are not needed.
School business leaders are also concerned about future fiscal uncertainty and avoiding a fiscal cliff. Contrary to the notion that school districts are making purchases randomly and chasing after the latest technology craze, business managers, superintendents, and school board leaders across the country are actively engaging with their communities to redress not only the devastating impact of the pandemic, but the decades of federal and state fiscal neglect that left so many districts poorly supported to begin with.
This long-awaited arrival of vital investment in our schools should be viewed as a bulwark to help shore up the foundations of our nation’s educational infrastructure and not as misguided policy that will yield wasteful district spending.
David J. Lewis
A version of this article appeared in the June 02, 2021 edition of Education Week as Don’t Knock Schools for Cautious Spending