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Wednesday, January 19, 2022
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    Schools’ COVID windfall has few strings attached


    As the federal government releases historic sums of pandemic aid to the nation’s schools, it’s urging them to dream big and invest in seismic changes that will benefit students for generations to come. But many districts say they have more urgent problems to tackle first.

    In Detroit, that means fixing buildings with crumbling ceilings and mold infestations. Like other school systems, Detroit is caught between the Biden administration’s lofty aspirations and bleak realities. The district is using some of the government money to hire tutors, expand mental health services and cut class sizes. But at least half of its $1.3 billion windfall is being set aside to make long-neglected repairs.

    “For decades, we have been inequitably funded to deal with the enormous needs that poverty and racial injustice have created in our city,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told The Associated Press in an interview. “Now with the COVID relief, we’re going to be able to put a significant dent into the challenge.”

    The administration has encouraged schools to take leaps, not steps, with the funding. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has called it a time for bold innovation that breaks down inequities and rethinks all aspects of schooling.

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