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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Some Iowa schools will get a tiny fraction of what others get in federal COVID-19 relief and have called on elected officials to find a more equitable way to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars, district officials said at a taxpayer association meeting last week.

  • Waukee schools estimates DSM's share is 49 times greater than Waukee's cut — a nearly $140 million difference.

Driving the news: A formula used to allocate the money is intended to help provide all children with a fair and equitable education, but some districts say it has missed the mark.

Details: Iowa has received about $1.2 billion in emergency payments for elementary and secondary schools since the start of the pandemic.

  • Most of the money is distributed via Title 1, a federal education law passed in 1965 to help reduce poverty by ensuring additional federal aid to poorer school districts.
  • Pandemic funding has "supercharged" the program, temporarily giving districts 10 times the funding they would normally get through the Title 1 formula. (Chalkbeat)

The pushback: Some schools or politicians from across the nation say this has created a funding gap, with some districts receiving thousands of dollars more per student than others.

  • Massive pandemic expenses for some districts are largely being excluded from federal reimbursements due to the formula, they say.

Waukee's district has more than $7.6 million in unfunded pandemic expenses, superintendent Brad Buck told members of the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa (TACI) last week.

  • Pandemic expenses for things like extra cleaning are not generally exacerbated by a school's poverty level and there should be a fairer formula to help cover them, Buck said.

The other side: Schools like Des Moines face incredible challenges linked with poverty, DMPS CFO Shashank Aurora said at the TACI meeting.

  • Almost 24,000 students are part of the district's free lunch program and some wrestle with homelessness.
  • The average age of the district's 72 buildings is 67 years, much older than many urban districts and that makes them more expensive to retrofit for things like better ventilation systems.
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Go deeper

13 mins ago - World

Israel's "change bloc" collapses, leaving Netanyahu in charge

Bennett (L) with Netanyahu in 2015. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

In a dramatic shift that comes amid fighting in the Gaza strip and clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, right-wing kingmaker Naftali Bennett has announced he will no longer seek an alternative government to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why it matters: Bennett had been on the verge of a power-sharing deal with centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid that would have made him prime minister for two years until Lapid rotated into the job. Without Bennett, Lapid has no path to a majority, and Israel will almost certainly head for its fifth election since 2019 with Netanyahu still in his post.

CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

The CDC announced in new guidance Thursday that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of crowd size.

What they're saying: "If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing.

Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid hackers nearly $5 million in ransom

Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline paid hackers linked to the DarkSide cybercrime group nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency after last week's ransomware attack, Bloomberg first reported and the New York Times confirmed.

Why it matters: The breach of the largest refined fuels pipeline in the U.S. triggered new concerns about the vulnerability of the country's increasingly digitized energy systems.