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  • Writer's pictureJillian Helding

US schools cut programs, staffing as COVID funding dries up, despite lagging student performance

As the $190 billion in aid money provided to schools during the pandemic begins to dwindle, some schools have already started pulling back programming to soften the blow. Districts across the country winding down services such as expanded summer school and after-school tutoring. Some teachers and support staff brought on to help kids through the crisis are being let go. But the latest national data shows large swaths of American students remain behind academically compared with where they would have been if not for the pandemic.

Among parents, there’s a sense that there remains "a lot of work to be done" to help students catch up, said Laura Mitchell, a vice president of a districtwide parent-teacher council in Maryland. "If we take that away, who’s going to help those who are falling behind?" she said.

In a June survey of hundreds of school system leaders by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, half said they would need to decrease staffing of specialists, such as tutors and reading coaches, for the new school year. Half also said they were cutting summer-learning programs. The next budget year is likely to be even more painful, with the arrival of what some describe as a "funding cliff."

Districts have through September 2024 to earmark the last of the money provided by Congress in three COVID relief packages.

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