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South Bend Schools Outline Plans To Spend Nearly $100 Million In Federal Pandemic Funds

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Justin Hicks / WVPE
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South Bend Community School Corporation received $92.7 million in federal elementary and secondary school emergency relief funds. During a July 12 school board meeting, the district outlined plans to use the money for improving academic achievement, funding infrastructure and technology upgrades and supporting teachers.

The district is required to send about $1.6 million to local non-public schools, and has pledged to spend another $20 million on Empowerment Zone schools.

 

That leaves about $71 million for South Bend’s remaining public schools, and the district is dividing that money into four categories — accelerated learning, updating technology and infrastructure, supporting educators and sustaining innovation. 

 

Accelerated learning is the largest, with $29.7 million.

 

In that category, the district plans to spend $21.6 million on before and after school and summer school programming, $4.5 million for social and emotional learning and community partnerships, $1.7 million for learning loss mitigation and $1 million for expanding and revamping curriculum.

 

The federal government requires that at least 20 percent of the total grant go to programs addressing learning loss.

 

Updating technology and infrastructure is the next largest category, with $22.2 million.

 

That breaks down to $7.4 million for technology purchases including iPads, computers and WiFi enabled school busses, $5.7 million for COVID mitigation — which includes upgrading HVAC systems and purchasing personal protective equipment – $4.8 million for classroom modernization and $4.3 million for building maintenance.

 

The supporting educators category gets $9.9 million, which will be spent on $1,500 staff stipends and staff support programming. Sustaining innovation comes in last with $9.2 million for virtual learning and reexamining school design and programming.

 

Kareemah Fowler, the district’s assistant superintendent of business and finance, said during the July 12 meeting that the district developed its spending plans after meeting with local legislators, community partners, department heads and building-level staff.

 

Fowler said the district also sent a survey to 3,000 employees, and received 252 responses, mostly from teachers.

 

The money must be spent by September 2024.

 

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

 

If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating here.

Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.