With new aid, schools seek solutions to old and new problems

How schools across the United States use wind and rain to mitigate the harm of pandemics and to tackle problems that existed long before the coronavirus, as large-scale injections of federal aid approach. I am considering.

The total amount of support approved last month was $ 123 billion, a staggering amount that provides some districts with several times the amount of federal education funding they receive each year. This assistance will help schools resume and expand their summer programs and help students keep up with their learning. It also offers the opportunity to pursue programs that have long been considered too costly, such as intensive tutoring, mental health services, and major curriculum upgrades.

“This feels like a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to make significant investments,” said Nathan Couder, Chief Financial Officer of Boston Public Schools, 275,500. Expect $ 10,000.

However, there are significant interests in spending decisions. Schools can face counterattacks from politicians affecting communities and funding if important needs are overlooked or if funding does not bring about concrete improvements. At the same time, schools need to be aware that their dreams are too big to sustain long-term costs.


Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said the support would allow schools to “press the reset button” and tackle the challenges that have long plagued the country’s education system. He said schools can train teachers in social and emotional learning and work to bridge lasting racial disparities in education.

“If the implementation is successful, our students will have a better experience than before the pandemic,” Cardona said in an interview.

Districts where poverty is more concentrated get the largest total. Public schools in some cities, such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia, are expected to receive over $ 1 billion. The new money will add to over $ 67 billion made available to schools in other relief packages during the pandemic.

Schools need to book 20% for summer programs and other efforts to address loss of learning, but expect wide flexibility in the use of most aids. School leaders are thinking big because it takes more than three years to spend new money.


Boston officials said aid would resume, recover, and be used to “rethink what is possible for our students.” He said the money would help renew dilapidated buildings, but could also be used to launch new bilingual programs and renew the curriculum. Ultimately, authorities plan to ask residents about the changes they want to see.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where 83% of students come from low-income households, the school district expects to receive $ 120 million. That’s nearly three times the normal annual federal education funding. In addition to building upgrades, assistance will help achieve the goal of providing summer programs and after-school care in all neighborhoods, officials said.

“We will use this moment to explore ways to make a lasting difference in the school district,” said Deborah Gist, superintendent of education.

School officials in Hartford, Connecticut said they had put together a list of “winning” spending areas. The school district plans to “fundamentally expand” learning options outside of school days, foster a new teacher pipeline, and expand the school’s role in the community, said superintendent Leslie Torres Rodriguez. Said.


The school district also wants to purchase new curriculum materials across all grades and subjects, a goal that was previously unattainable. “That’s something we couldn’t do before,” Torres-Rodriguez said. “We only got a few here and there.”

Funding has been very successful in some districts, but questions have been raised about other sources of financial support. Some states are already cutting their education budgets as they face sharp revenue losses, and others may follow suit, weakening the impact of the federal dollar.

To keep costs down in the future, many schools are avoiding significant hiring increases, and few are pursuing high-labor programs. Instead, many consider adding teachers or hiring contractors under short-term contracts to provide social and mental health services.

Virginia Beach is considering whether staff will add teachers on a one-year contract, with a focus on hiring retirees and non-teachers. The district is also considering whether to train current teachers in high-demand subjects and whether to add mental health services through telemedicine providers.


“This is a huge increase, but it’s important to understand that these aren’t ongoing funding,” said Aaron Spence, superintendent of education.

The primary goal is to get the students back into the classroom. At $ 800 million in Detroit schools, much of the aid will be used for ventilation systems, paying for small classes and social distance-related costs. Some of it is expected to be directed to teacher hazard pay back in the classroom.

Funding is primarily aimed at reversing the setbacks caused by a year of distance learning, but it also provides the impetus for maintaining virtual options. At Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, authorities are expanding summer learning, but are also planning to launch a virtual academy for students with health concerns and successful distance learning.

In Akron, Ohio, in a metropolitan area with $ 96 million in new aid, Chief Financial Officer Ryan Pendleton said the money has the potential to “change education forever for the better.” He said he was.


“It’s a great, great opportunity from a terrible pandemic.”


Contributed by Associated Press writer Michael Melia in Hartford, Connecticut and Cantere Franco in Columbus, Ohio.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

With new aid, schools seek solutions to old and new problems

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