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Flush with COVID-19 aid, schools steer funding to sports

Fans fill the stadium at the football field at Whitewater High School on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021,...
Fans fill the stadium at the football field at Whitewater High School on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Whitewater, Wis. A growing number of school districts in the U.S. are using federal pandemic funding on athletics projects. When school officials at Whitewater learned they would be getting $2 million in pandemic relief this year, they decided to set most of it aside to cover costs from their current budget, freeing up $1.6 million in local funding that’s being used to build new synthetic turf fields for football, baseball and softball. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash | AP)
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 9:21 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A growing number of school districts in the U.S. are using federal pandemic funding on athletics projects.

One school district in Iowa is spending $100,000 on a weight room renovation, while another in Wisconsin is spending $1.6 million on new synthetic turf fields.

When school officials at Whitewater learned they would be getting $2 million in pandemic relief this year, they decided to set most of it aside to cover costs from their current budget, freeing up $1.6 million in local funding that’s being used to build new synthetic turf fields for football, baseball and softball, according to the Associated Press.

School officials argue the projects support students’ physical and mental health, but critics tell The Associated Press the spending clashes with the intent of the pandemic relief.

Education experts say the funding should go toward tutoring and other costs to help students recover learning loss.

Some critics blame state and federal officials for failing to make sure the money is used appropriately.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.