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CSBA survey report highlights opportunities and challenges in spending COVID relief aid


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (September 21, 2022) – The California School Boards Association (CSBA) today released the findings of a wide-ranging survey of superintendents and financial staff from local educational agencies (LEAs) throughout the state showcasing their priorities, challenges and recommendations for spending state and federal COVID relief funding.

Beyond the Spreadsheets: Insights from California education leaders utilizing COVID-19 relief funding highlights the extraordinary efforts of school districts and county offices of education to address the variety of priorities they face in dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. The survey respondents are from LEAs that serve over 1.3 million of California’s K-12 students and represent a wide geographic range of elementary, high school and unified districts as well as county offices of education.

“COVID-19 relief funding has been essential to LEA leaders as they provide students and school communities with the programs and services needed to overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, try to regain academic ground and make new advancements,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “This report builds on CSBA’s prior report on federal relief funding and offers a first-hand glimpse at what decisions LEA leaders have faced and continue to grapple with as they navigate the important work of educating students.”

Education leaders emphasized the funds allowed their districts to meet the changing needs of the pandemic — from the initial push to facilitate distance learning to navigating the safe reopening of schools to supporting learning recovery and the social-emotional well-being of students and staff. Challenges to these goals included staffing shortages and burnout, supply chain issues and the complexity of braiding multiple funding sources together that have different requirements.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Emergency relief funding was essential to allow school districts to continue operating and meet student and staff needs.
  • In the face of a historic educational crisis, school leaders focused on using relief funding to address students' academic and social-emotional recovery.
  • Mental health services and supports were a central theme for respondents throughout all sections of the report.
  • School leaders faced significant challenges in spending and planning to spend emergency relief funding.

The report, the second in a series on COVID relief funding in California, includes feedback on how potential future emergency funding packages can support LEAs’ needs.

View Beyond the Spreadsheets: Insights from California education leaders on utilizing COVID-19 relief funding


CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.