Website shows amount NM schools received from feds — and what districts spent

By: - September 13, 2021 3:34 pm

A new website shows how much New Mexico school districts received from CARES Act funding and how much of that money they have spent. (Photo by Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Getty Images)

Want to see if New Mexico schools are spending the federal pandemic relief money? 

There’s a website for you. Check it. 

New Mexico’s Public Education Department launched a site that gives people a view into school district spending of CARES Act money for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER). The site now details specific spending.

According to the site, New Mexico school districts have spent nearly 90% of the $97 million dollars distributed to their communities as part of the first round of federal pandemic relief. 

More than $13 billion dollars in ESSER funding was sent to public schools across the country as part of the first round. 

New Mexico received $108 million to support Title I, Part A schools in the state. Schools receive Title I status if at least 40 percent of their student population is considered low income. This allows schools to qualify for federal dollars that can pay for after-school programs, lunch services and curriculum programs. A majority of New Mexico schools are in the Title I program. 

The federal relief money is distributed to districts and charter schools as reimbursements. Information presented on the dashboard represents the first round of federal relief money to schools. Officials with the education department said they will update when additional federal money is reported.

“The public has a need and a right to know how schools are spending a generational influx of federal funding to improve education outcomes in New Mexico,” state Education Secretary-designate Kurt Steinhaus said in a news release. The state is trying to make it as easy as possible for people to keep track of this spending in their school districts, he said, and to show that educators are spending the money wisely. 

Many districts spent their money coping with the digital divide as students went into remote learning. Some schools also used their federal dollars to refurbish their schools with HVAC systems to allow for greater air circulation preparing for in-person learning. 

The dashboard also breaks down how much each local school district received. 

For instance, Roy Municipal Schools received $1,087 and still has all of the balance available for its small district that serves 49 students. The school district confirmed the information from the dashboard.

Larger districts are using their money. 

Of the nearly $26 million Albuquerque Public Schools received, only $5 million remains unspent. 

Las Cruces Public Schools, the second largest district in New Mexico, has spent $6.3 million out of $7.3 million.

Gallup McKinley County Schools used much of its money to provide laptops and build internet infrastructure for students without web access. The district has spent $6.4 million of the $7 million it received from the federal government. 

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.