by ELISSA SALAMY, The National Desk
WASHINGTON (TND) — According to watchdog group Open the Books, the Department of Education distributed $190 billion of COVID relief funds to schools across America. The funding was meant to help schools reopen and get kids back into classrooms safely, but how was the funding spent?
“In Creston, Iowa, they expanded their sports stadium and they added bleachers for $231,000. At a school district in Kentucky, they actually replaced their track for a million dollars worth of this COVID spending aid,” said Open The Books’ Adam Andrzejewski to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat. “It's a big problem when Congress is throwing so much money at school districts they can't even hardly spend it.”
Andrzejewski said New York City public schools used COVID funding to aid in payroll spending.
“They use some of the money to pay their custodians and janitors,” said Andrzejewski.
According to auditors at Open the Books, janitors at New York City public schools can make up to $256,000. Andrzejewski says that there is a history of misspending within the Department of Education.
“Back in 2008 and 2009, on the Great Recession, U.S. taxpayers bailed out our nation's K-12 schools to the tune of $100 billion dollars, and there was a lot of misspending in that aid,” said Andrzejewski. “Our auditors did a research report in 2019 and at OpentheBooks.com, and we found that the Department of Education over a two-year period admitted to mistaken and improper payments of $11 billion.”
Andrzejewski said the Department of Education misspent and overpaid 4% of all student loans and 8% of all Pell Grants during the two-year period.
“These issues have existed for a long time at the Department of Education,” said Andrzejewski.