Over the past two years, Alaska’s public schools have taken in more than $538 million in federal Covid relief money. Of that, they have only spent $187 million, about 40%.

Above is a list of what some of the largest school districts in Alaska received from Covid relief funds. It also details how much each district has spent, and how much they have on hand. Amounts are current as of July 18, 2022.

The state launched a comprehensive dashboard detailing exactly how much money each school district has received, what they’ve spent and what the expenditures entail.

They include a whole laundry list of items and services, but employee benefits and salaries are by far the top expenditure.

Still, it appears districts are having a difficult time offloading all the newfound cash. Most of the federal taxpayer funds – tens of millions – are still sitting in district coffers. This money is above and beyond anything districts receive in regular state and federal funds.

The Anchorage School District, Alaska’s largest, has spent just $55 million of its $184 million allotment, which leaves it with nearly $129 million in the bank. About 71% of Anchorage’s expenditures have gone to employee benefits and salaries.

The Policy Forum also takes school districts to task for sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars, while insisting that the state and local communities hand over even more.

Likewise, the second largest district – Mat-Su – has used 66% of its expenditures on employee benefits and salaries, and these make up 76% of Fairbanks’ expenses.

Alaska Policy Forum compiled a list of all the school districts expenditures and balances as of July 18. They are listed here.

“Because these federal grants are likely to be one-time-only, responsible spending entails one-time expenditures instead of ongoing expenditures such as salaries and benefits,” the Policy Forum article stated. “Yet according to the district dashboards, many have chosen to use the funds for ongoing expenses, including salaries and benefits.”

The Policy Forum notes that “extreme caution” should be made when it comes to using one-time Covid funds for new positions and benefits, as they require “recurring costs.”

The Policy Forum also takes school districts to task for sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars, while insisting that the state and local communities hand over even more.

“And after these one-time funds expire, we can expect further claims of ‘drastic cuts,’” the Policy Forum notes. “Instead, parents, administrators, and policymakers should be asking: how can we spend these additional one-time funds in a manner that best serves our students? Better examples of how to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds – outside of immediate COVID-19 response such as PPE equipment and online learning facilitation – include activities to address learning loss, afterschool reading programs, and summer school programs. The success of Alaska’s students is paramount, and the COVID-19 federal relief funding should be used to serve them.”

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AK schools have spent 40% of their $538M in Covid cash – mostly on salaries, benefits

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Penny Seliger says:

    Being a retired ASD Special Ed teacher I can tell you where the money does not go. It doesn’t go to classroom supplies. Sometimes parents can’t afford the supplies and teachers dig up the money to get the supplies for their room. On the average teachers spend any where between $500-$750 on their classrooms for the year. With inflation it could reach $1,000 for this next school year.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Covid 19 what a Joke
    Be afraid be very afraid look at all those sheep walking/running to the cliffs edge