Newest Data a Gold Mine for Reporters
Aug. 24, 2010 8:59 a.m.
EdMoney.org, EWA’s website tracking funds from last year’s economic-stimulus law, has just become a gold mine of information on that unprecedented influx of federal cash into the nation’s schools.
With data on roughly 39,000 grants to more than 12,000 school districts, the site now provides vastly more information on how funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being disbursed. Besides listing the amount and purpose of grants awarded to states and districts through June 30 of this year, the database reports how much of the money had been spent as of that date.
The site also lets you compare school districts of similar size, and their spending rates. In some cases, it’s surprising to see how little of the stimulus cash has been spent. For instance, the nation’s capital has only spent $650,000 of its $16 million in additional special education dollars, while Wyoming has only spent 1 percent of its share of education-related stimulus money.
Very soon, we’ll offer downloadable files so you can analyze the numbers yourselves. But even now, the wealth of newly added data presents interesting story possibilities. Here are a few:
-- Compare districts of similar size and demographics in your state to see if there are discrepancies in how they’re spending stimulus dollars.
-- Compare the rate of spending among districts. Is your district spending at a faster rate or a slower rate than average? How about property-rich counties versus property-poor ones in your state?
-- Are there significant differences in how much stimulus money per student various states and school districts are receiving? If so, find out why.
-- Take a look at the IDEA grants to your districts and find out how those awards have affected the amount of local funds allotted for special education. If the local contributions have been cut and replaced with federal dollars, what does the district plan to do after the stimulus money dries up?
We’ll be offering more story possibilities in the days and weeks ahead. For now, take a cruise around the database, and contact us with any questions. Let us know when you come across something worth investigating. And make sure to share links to your own stories and blog items on the stimulus.