With massive infusions of federal aid on the way, schools in the United States are studying how to use resources to mitigate the damage from the pandemic and address problems that existed long before the coronavirus.
The aid approved last month was $ 1.23 billion, a staggering amount that will save some regions several times the amount of federal funding they receive in a single year. This money will help schools reopen and expand summer programs to help students catch up. It also provides the opportunity to pursue programs that have always been considered too costly, such as intensive tutoring, mental health services, and important curricular updates.
“It feels like one opportunity in every generation for us to make important investments,” said Nathan Coder, chief financial officer of Boston Public Schools, who predicts $ 275 million.
But spending decisions carry a lot of risk. If important needs are overlooked or if funds do not bring tangible improvements, schools may face a setback from their communities and from the politicians who influence their funding. At the same time, schools must be careful not to exaggerate dreams and carry long-term costs that they cannot afford.
Education Minister Miguel Cardona said the aid would allow schools to “press the reset button” and face the challenges that have long plagued the country’s education system. He argued that schools can train teachers in social and emotional learning and work to bridge persistent ethnic disparities in education.
The provinces with the highest concentration of poverty will receive the largest amounts. Public schools in some cities are expected to receive more than $ 1 billion, including Los Angeles and Philadelphia. These funds add to the more than $ 67 billion provided to schools in other aid packages during the pandemic.