Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville)

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — Warning that federal aid to combat Covid-19 ends soon, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper on Monday revealed how the money’s being spent, and criticized President Trump’s hollow threat to defund schools that don’t reopen.

“It’s called extortion,” Cooper said after an on-line report on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, “to threaten to withhold vital federal funding from schools just because the President wants to veto local school board decisions, in this case to prioritize the health of children, teachers and staff.”

Trump could veto aid to schools. That would hurt all schools and Congress can override him. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could stop grants, but schools need more money to reopen.

DeVos’ dilemma seemed to be substantiated during Cooper’s conference by school board member Amy Frogge: “If

Amy Frogge

school district are to reopen safely it will be vital for us to have funds to do so. Guidelines for schools reopening will require a substantial investment in our school facilities, in personal protective equipment and in cleaning and sanitation supplies. Between now and December, we expect to spend $6-10 million in CARES Act funds just on PPE supplies.”

CARES will give students access to computers and the internet, Frogge said. “In a chronically under-funded school district, which regularly doesn’t have enough funds to even purchase textbooks, this was an amazing feat.”

Metro schools received $26 million from the $2.5 trillion program. Nearly $5 billion was distributed in Davidson and Dickson counties, and most of Cheatham County. More is needed to avoid long-term economic damage, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says. See TnTribune. com on the web.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...