Following the money is almost always easier said than done. A big push of the federal stimulus package was to prop up school districts beset by fiscal difficulties in the economic downturn, to the tune of at least $62 billion. But where did the money go?
EdMoney Schools Database is designed to track that money flow, and it is pretty interesting to see the breakdown. The site has an interactive map for each state, or you can type in geographic locations to see where the money is going. I checked out my state of Massachusetts, and used EdMoney to track the $1.5 billion awarded to it under the stimulus plan. Of that, only about $590 million has been spent. I then went even deeper, digging into my own school district’s allocation of funds (we’ve spent about 90 percent of what we were awarded by the state, it seems). Interestingly, when you get to this level in the database, it allows you to compare your own district with other districts of comparable size. The site also shows various news stories related to the stimulus in education and visitors can register and submit stories of how the federal funds have helped (or hindered) schools.
The site is funded in part by a grant from the Gates Foundation, and its data and analysis comes from a group called the Education Writing Association, which seeks to improve education reporting to the general public. The site says, “We will code stories and tips by state, school district, and schools to help reporters and their communities understand how these funds are being spent.”