May 22, 2024


Manteca Unified, when next October rolls around, will have spent $93 million in federal COVID relief funds.

District leaders were careful to use the funds for one-time expenditures connected with the switch for a period of time to 100 percent distance learning, COVID safeguards in the classroom, learning loss mitigation, and improvement designated to enhance learning going forward.

It means they will have avoided a financial cliff that some districts are facing with the deadline of spending the funds arriving on Sept. 30, 2024.

New York City Schools, as an example, used a large chunk of its $7 billion share to fund the expansion of pre-kindergarten programs — similar to transitional kindergarten in Manteca schools — and to fund widely attended summer programs. The school system anticipates not having enough money next school year to fully fund the two endeavors.

Los Angeles Unified funded more than 2,000 positions in the current school year with part of their federal COVID funds. It has led  LAUSD to warn they are facing a “severe structural deficit” that will likely require layoffs.

Initially, Manteca Unified used the money to make distance learning more muscular by upgrading computer-related equipment for teachers.

The funds were used to prep schools for a return to in-person learning.

That included personal protective equipment (PPE), site mitigations, and safeguards.

The district supplied classrooms with face shields, cloth and surgical masks, fillable water bottles, hand sanitizing and/or handwashing stations, partition barriers, infrared contact-less forehead thermometers with batteries, spray bottles with disinfecting solution, microfiber cleaning clothes for classrooms, DuPont Tyvek coverall suits, and disposable gloves to name a few.

Additionally, all faculty and staff were provided with a $50 one-time allotment using Amazon for PPE items beyond those supplied for an extra level of individualized safety.  

Water fountains were replaced with water bottle filling stations.

Manteca Unified was a step ahead of the curve in the early stages of the pandemic when they used the federal funds to secure hospital quality air purifiers for all classrooms.

They did so with the intent of continuing to use them as the pandemic retreated to address the issue of airborne germs that also trigger respiratory illnesses such as the flu and colds — historically the biggest reason for student and faculty absences during the school year.

The district also viewed the air purifiers as an invaluable tool for days of significant air quality issues such as when wildfires send smoke into the valley.

It dovetails into a districtwide effort to replace aging air conditioning and heating systems plus update air filter systems.

Other long-term investments using the one-time federal COVID funds included a districtwide furniture refresh before the start of this school year at the elementary level.

A furniture refresh on the high school level is taking place this summer.

The furniture is more ergonomically effective and conducive to collaborative learning.

Items such as “spinning” chairs for younger elementary students are designed to address fidgeting and other issues for youth that have a difficult time sitting still.

To put in perspective what $93 million means to Manteca Unified, last school year’s overall revenue for educational programs came to $362.4 million.

Districts received funding based on poverty rates.

Those in school systems with predominately low-income students received an average of $6,000 according to an Edunomics Lab analysis.

The average was $1,000 per student in affluent areas.

Manteca received $3,875 per student.

The $180 billion that flowed from the federal government to local schools was the result of two back-to-back spending bills — one signed by President Donald Trump and the other by President Joe Biden.

It represents three times the amount of money that the federal government spends on local education in a given year.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email





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