Sweetwater School District uses millions in COVID-19 relief funds to pay employee salaries

Written by Amanda Angulo

It has recently been revealed that the Sweetwater Union High School District has been using their COVID-19 relief funds to pay their employees and alleviate the deficit in their payroll. Although it is under the state and federal rules to allow for some districts to have discretion on how the funds should be used, critics have urged that every dollar should go towards students and COVID-19 safety measures. 

The school board members, who are all Democrats, have clearly shown where their priorities are. Using $6.7 million and counting for payrolls, is unacceptable. 

Over $6 million that could be used for better protection and more safety measures have gone into the pockets of those administrators that have decided on this. The purpose of the COVID-19 funds is to improve ventilation systems and buy protective gear for in-person instruction. 

Former chair of the district’s bond oversight committee has stated, “The CARES Act was a lifeline to get your act together to make this district safe for opening and to accommodate the effects of the pandemic, not a lifeline to build your reserves.”

As of December last year, Sweetwater had only spent a little over $1 million on personal protective equipment. For every dollar spent on the safety of teachers and students, an additional five dollars have been spent on their payroll deficit. How can students and families truly believe that the district did everything they could to keep everyone in the school safe when millions of dollars in aid is being spent on employee salaries instead of PPE and safety protocols?

Dr. Ana Maria Alvarez, the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, has claimed that she believes the funds are being used appropriately. If Democrats believe that spending COVID-19 funds on anything other than protective measures for the schools is justifiable, it demonstrates that they do not prioritize the safety of children and reopening schools.

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