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Schools having issues using $1.4 billion in federal aid

WASHINGTON — Schools are reporting issues trying to use more than a billion dollars of federal money that was supposed to help them recover from disasters.

$1.4 billion was used to help schools between 2017 and 2019, but school leaders say they can’t use the money. A new report from the Government Accountability Office outlines where the money was sent. According to FEMA, more than 260 presidentially-declared major disasters have happened since 2017.

“Some of what happened during the pandemic is that, you know, districts were on track to use those funds in a certain way. The pandemic hit and they had to shift their focus, obviously, to deal with the pandemic,” said Jackie Nowicki with the GAO.

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One major area schools wanted to spend the money in was for mental health services for students. It was already an issue before the pandemic, but now schools are seeing even more problems.

“The pandemic is lasting considerably longer than all but the most severe distress so we can anticipate potentially more significant impact in terms of mental health,” said Director of the National Institute of Mental Health Dr. Josh Gordon.

Researchers behind the study plan to now take a deeper dive into the issues surrounding the money and figure out how to fix it.

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