escondido schools covid
Students at Bear Valley Middle School watch a video during class. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, state and federal lawmakers over the last year sent several tidal waves of cash to K-12 public school districts, including those in San Diego County.

Based on allocations reported by government agencies, the total coronavirus relief aid coming to the region’s 42 K-12 public school districts and the San Diego County Office of Education will surpass $2 billion. That is on top of their regular funding – which this year was spared from losses tied to enrollment declines.

The biggies in coronavirus relief money came in three waves from the federal government: First, the $2 trillion CARES Act in March 2020; the $900 billion aid package in December; and the $1.9 trillion aid package called the American Rescue Plan in March 2021. All three provided aid for schools, individuals and other government agencies.

State lawmakers also sent some school relief funds – notably passing a $6.56 billion-plus aid package in March 2021 via SB 86, which ties $2 billion worth of the funds to a firm in-person school reopening timeline this year for certain students. School districts will be allocated the funds as if they plan to reopen but will be subject to claw-backs later this year based on whether they actually reopened as required. For each school day the districts fail to meet the new reopening definitions, they will lose 1 percent of that pot of money.

The aim for all the aid was to help schools pay for safety precautions that could make school campuses safe, or to help with the transition to remote online learning or pay for extra supports to limit learning losses students would experience this school year and beyond.

Each school district was given lots of leeway over how to spend the money, and some districts have spent millions in aid on existing employees by arguing their job duties are substantially different this year due to the pandemic.

Most campuses across San Diego County have remained closed to most students for the duration of the pandemic. A few districts opened schools in the fall in at least hybrid form, with students spending at least some days on campus, well before a vaccine was available. Many more schools plan to reopen at least partially in the coming weeks.

Voice of San Diego has gathered the local coronavirus school aid amounts into one searchable database. See how much money your school district received.

Having trouble viewing this table? Click here.

Source: All figures come from the California Department of Education except for amounts from the federal $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021, which come from the Congressional Research Service via Rep. Sara Jacobs’ office. California’s SB 86 amounts are shown in two categories: expanded learning opportunity grants and reopening incentives, the latter of which are not guaranteed. Voice of San Diego used the state Department of Education’s 2019-20 total district enrollment numbers to calculate relief per student amounts, which include some charter school students. Some aid amounts include funding sent to districts that will get passed along to charter schools.

Funding for the ESSER I, II and III amounts come from the federal aid packages known as the CARES Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. The Learning Loss Mitigation Fund (LLMF) amounts reflect funding from California and additional CARES Act money. Funding for SB 117 and SB 86 come from the state of California.

Ashly McGlone

Ashly is a freelance investigative reporter. She formerly worked as a staff reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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