(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indiana has a 10-million-dollar disagreement with the federal government over how to spend coronavirus relief money for schools.
More than 200-million dollars of Indiana’s CARES Act money is earmarked for schools. When schools get federal funding, they’re supposed to give a slice of it to private schools in their district, in the form of services like buses or computers. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has told states to carve it up based on total enrollment, a formula that would give private schools three times as much money.
State school superintendents’ national association has challenged DeVos’s interpretation. Indiana is one of two states to respond directly to DeVos that they won’t follow her directive. DeVos’s letter isn’t legally binding, while the state is following the Title I law which governs federal funding for at-risk students.
Wayne Township Superintendent Jeff Butts is staying out of the dispute, saying it’s up to the state and federal Departments of Education to sort out. But he says the issue isn’t so much the money public schools would lose — about two-percent for Wayne, though other districts would sacrifice more — but whether serving at-risk students should remain the primary goal of federal funding.