Millions of dollars coming to the Lehigh Valley’s school districts and local governments

Written by on March 26, 2021

Millions of dollars coming to the Lehigh Valley’s school districts and local governments

By Genesis Ortega

March 26, 2021

Photo by CDC from Pexels

Now that Congress has passed the new COVID relief plan, state and local governments are learning whether they can use the money for roads and county health bureaus. Northampton County officials held a town hall meeting on March 25 to get some specifics. 

Listen to the story.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh/Northampton) says federal officials are still figuring out how much money will go to local governments. 

“I know you are all anxious to know the final amounts and get the final guidance on allowable usage for the funds,” Wild says.

Easton is set to receive only about $3 million compared to Allentown’s $57 million and Bethlehem’s $33 million. 

Wild’s office says they’re working to fix the error. 

Money for schools is being allocated based on the poverty level in a district. 

“So schools with more low-income students will receive more money,” Wild says. 

The Allentown School District, one of the poorest in the state, may get $105 million. 

The Bethlehem Area School District is projected to receive $37 million. And the Easton Area School District can expect $18 million based on the unofficial estimates. 

Wild says the money can be used to help make up for pandemic learning loss and hiring more teachers. 

Along with pandemic relief and rents and schools, the money can also be used for infrastructure like water, sewer, and broadband. It cannot be used for pension plans or to replace lost tax revenue. 

Bottom line, Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez says, they need more information. 

“We need some guidelines, we need more regulations, we just need more clarity on how we can spend this money,” Donchez says.

The money is expected to be distributed within about 60 days. 

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