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Indiana's Public Schools To Get $1.8B In Federal Pandemic Recovery

Indiana’s public schools will receive nearly $1.8 billion to help recover from the pandemic as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the state announced today. This is the largest ever injection of federal funds to Indiana schools.

At least 20% of the dollars a school district or charter school receives must go toward addressing learning loss during the pandemic, such as offering summer school. These one-time funds can be also used to reimburse certain expenses related to COVID-19 through September 2024, such as physical facility improvements.

The funds announced today are for traditional school districts, charter and virtual schools, and adult high schools. Indianapolis Public Schools is set to receive the most of any district -- $136 million of the state's allocation.

Indiana’s non-public schools are expected to receive an additional $78 million later this spring.

“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 Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner in a statement. “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.”

Indiana’s new funds are part of more than $170.3 billion earmarked for education in the  American Rescue Plan Act. President Joe Biden recently signed the act into law. In total, it provides $1.9 trillion in federal stimulus dollars mostly to state and local governments to address the pandemic’s impact.

Now, school districts must figure out how to spend these funds on ways to benefit students and increase health and safety at school buildings.

For some districts, it will be a difficult balance as school leaders already face other financial challenges. At Indianapolis Public Schools, it’s leaders may be forced to lay off employees this summer due to an expected budget shortfall. Superintendent Aleesia Johnson has said these one-time federal dollars will not be used to fill funding gaps left by lack of recurring state support.

Today’s announcement also comes as state lawmakers debate how much to increase funding for K-12 education in the final month of the legislative session. Some lawmakers have urged caution in increasing state funds because schools are receiving these new federal dollars.

The largest allocations to other school districts are: Fort Wayne Community Schools, $100.8 million; South Bend Community School Corp., $59.3 million; Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., $53.9 million; Gary Community School Corp., $46.8 million; and School City of Hammond, $40.6 million.