INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) on Monday released a list showing the estimated amount of money public school districts across the state will receive as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Funding estimates for non-public schools will be released later this spring.
In Allen County, Fort Wayne Community Schools will receive an estimated $100,802.907.15. Northwest Allen County Schools is set to receive an estimated $3,245,271.05; Southwest Allen County Schools will get an estimated $3,365,591.10; East Allen County Schools will receive an estimated $22,879,474.74.
“Over the past year, this is the third round of federal funding allowing many Indiana schools access to unprecedented resources to sustainably invest in their future,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “While the needs may vary from one school to the next, it’s critical that schools are strategically planning to maximize their return on investment, in turn achieving the greatest outcomes for students.”
According to the IDOE, with this funding, schools can reimburse approved expenses incurred through September 2024 that address some of the greatest challenges schools continue to face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Per federal requirements, schools must use at least 20 percent of these funds to support accelerated learning opportunities for students, as schools work to make up for lost instructional time due to COVID-19. These evidence-based interventions may include summer learning or enrichment, comprehensive afterschool programs, extended school years programs, etc. Additional information about allowable uses is available here.
Leaders at Fort Wayne Community Schools learned of their $100 million dollar allocation while figuring out what to do with the previous round of funding. FWCS received $9,000,000 in the first round and another $44,000,000 in the second installment.
According to a spokesperson for Fort Wayne Community Schools, the district is considering several options for what to spend the money on, with the goal of making improvements but not creating expenses beyond the 2024 timeframe.
“How do we use this money to best meet the needs of kids to get them back up to speed to where they need to be, but at the same time not creating new programs that will then have to be funded somehow when this money runs out,” FWCS Spokesperson Krista Stockman asked. “We’re really trying to be creative in what we look at, to think about things that we’ve never really had the opportunity to do before.”
Previous rounds of funding paid for personal protective equipment for schools while getting students access to remote learning. Stockman told WANE 15 the district is considering ways to make class sizes smaller, improve air quality in school buildings and create programs that will help students bounce back from the pandemic.
Spokespeople from other Allen County school districts also told WANE 15 that definitive plans have not yet been made.
“East Allen County Schools is currently in the planning phase for ESSER II and ESSER III funds,” East Allen County Schools Public Information Officer Tamyra Kelly said in a statement. “Our overall plan is to implement evidence-based interventions that respond to students’ social, emotional, academic needs and improves the indoor air quality of our facilities and reduces the risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards.”
“No decisions have been made for use of the third round of ESSR funds for Northwest Allen County Schools as the final allocation has not been awarded,” a spokesperson for NACS added. “We are using the second round to cover remote instruction for students. The initial allotment went largely towards implementing reopening plans, remote support help for teachers and students as well as adding a social worker to help ensure the needs of students were being met.”
“Nearly all ESSER I funds (CARE Funds) were used to support our Food Services Department for staffing and supplies enabling SACS to continue to feed our students during Hunker Down Indiana,” SACS Director of District Communications Stacey Fleming added. “SACS is currently discussing how best to allocate ESSER II and III funds in our district to best meet the needs of our students and staff. No final decisions have been made.”