North Carolina school district used COVID-19 money to boost staff salaries: report

North Carolina school district used COVID-19 money to boost staff salaries: report

A North Carolina school district used COVID-19 relief funds to boost the salaries and benefits of its staff, according to a report.

Chalkboard, a K-12 public education news outlet, reported that the Wake County Public School System used more than 40% of $442 million in COVID-19 relief funding to supply “bonus pay” to its employees.

The outlet goes on to say that “77.69% of spending on salaries and benefits, with about 10% or less was spent “on other categories.” The report explained further that the school district spent $238.2 million on salaries and benefits, approximately $30 million spent on supplies, $19 million for purchased services, $88,690 for capital outlay, and $9 million for “other” expenses.

EXPERTS REACT TO US MATH, READING SCORES DIPPING FOR STUDENTS AFTER COVID-19: ‘DISMAL’

Classroom with empty wooden desks.  (iStock)

Classroom with empty wooden desks. (iStock)
(iStock)

“Wake County schools, according to state data through Nov. 30, has spent $120.4 million on bonus pay. Another $10 million went toward the teacher pay scale, $12 million for retirement costs, $15 million toward Social Security, $18 million for ‘Extended Contracts ,’ and $26 million for ‘teacher,'” Chalkboard reported.

The Wake County Public School System, which presidents over 193 schools, and approximately 158,000 students, received a total of $443 million in state and federal “Pandemic Relief” funding. The funding will span the 2021-2024 school year, according to a breakdown of “Pandemic Relief Funds” on their website.

A breakdown of the state data shows the Wake County Public School System shows that 64.5% of COVID-19 funds were used to fund “salary.” It also shows that 11.1% was used for “employee benefits,” 10.1% for “purchased services,” 11.2% for “supplies and “materials,” and 3.0% for “other.”

US MATH, READING TEST SCORES PLUNGE FOR STUDENTS ACROSS COUNTRY FOLLOWING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Chalkbeat claims that the spending priorities drew criticism for failing to address the learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic-induced school closures, especially in comparison to how other districts used funds.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, for example, spent $231.8 million in COVID-19 relief on salaries and benefits, or 64% of the funds through Nov. 30. The school district spent another 16% on supplies and materials, 17% for purchased services , and 2.13% for ‘other,'” the outlet lays reports.

Kid wearing yellow school bag when crossing the street on his way to school

Kid wearing yellow school bag when crossing the street on his way to school
(iStock)

The Chalkbeat report comes after national test scores showed sharp declines in math and reading. The test score results raise implications of the COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on the learning of kids across the US

Math scores saw their largest decrease ever, while reading scores dropped to levels not seen since 1992 for fourth and eighth graders across the country, according to the Nation’s Report Card.

The average mathematics score for fourth-grade students fell five points from 2019 to 2022. The score for eighth-graders dropped eight points. Reading for both grades fell three points since 2019.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona meets leaders from US colleges and universities to discuss challenges students are facing after the Supreme Court decision to end the nationwide constitutional right to abortion, in the Vice President's ceremonial office at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, US, August 8, 2022.

US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona meets leaders from US colleges and universities to discuss challenges students are facing after the Supreme Court decision to end the nationwide constitutional right to abortion, in the Vice President’s ceremonial office at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, US, August 8, 2022.
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Math scores were worst among eighth graders, with 38% earning scores deeming “below basic” — a cutoff that measures, for example, whether students can find the third angle of a triangle if they’re given the other two. That’s worse than 2019, when 31% of eighth graders scored below that level.

Fox News’ Stephanie Sorace contributed to this report.