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Coronavirus

AP: Schools Steer Some Virus Funds to Sports

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A growing number of school districts in the U.S. are using federal pandemic funding on athletics projects. One school district in Wisconsin is spending $1.6 million on new synthetic turf fields. One district in Iowa is spending $100,000 on a weight room renovation.

School officials argue the projects support students’ physical and mental health, but critics tell The Associated Press the spending clashes with the intent of the pandemic relief. Education experts say the funding should go toward tutoring and other costs to help students recover learning loss.

The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan signed in March by President Joe Biden that sent money to schools, giving larger shares to those with higher poverty. It’s the latest of several rounds of funding Congress funneled to the states to address education needs. The AP has tracked more than $157 billion distributed so far to school districts nationwide.

Schools have wide flexibility in how they use the money but only three years to spend it, a deadline that has led some to look for quick purchases that won’t need ongoing funding after the federal money is gone.

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