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Oklahoma school districts were promised billions for coronavirus relief. Here’s how much they’ve spent

A high school hallway.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, public schools have been promised a windfall of federal funding.

In Oklahoma schools have been budgeted $2.1 billion total. And that money has been scheduled to go to a wide array of programs like summer school, mental health resources and construction projects.

But more than half of the money offered by the federal government remains.

  • LEA (Local Education Agencies/School Districts) allocation: $2,145,666,054
  • Expenditures through 7/15/2022: $1,017,296,229
  • Remaining balance: $1,128,369,825

The reasons are numerous per the Oklahoma State Department of Education: supply chain issues and construction delays have delayed spending, which is given to districts through reimbursements.

“Oklahoma public school district leaders are being prudent and thinking long-term strategically with how relief funds are being utilized to best serve the educational and environmental needs of Oklahoma students and educators,” Oklahoma State Department of Education spokesman Rob Crissinger wrote in an email.

Uneven spending of funds is reflected across the country, per a national analysis put together by Georgetown University. A district-by-district breakdown of spending is available via Georgetown’s Edunomics Lab.

“Overall, it is clear that districts are making very different choices with their money, and the pace of spending appears to be slow,” wrote in a national analysis earlier this year.

The deadline for spending federal money isn’t for two years. School districts must spend down their CARES money by September 2024.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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