Newark school principals are urging families and educators to tell them how the district plans to spend $ 84 million on government aid.
The district must seek public contributions to apply for the millions of federal coronavirus funds allocated to Newark by May 14, Superintendent Roger León said at a virtual community meeting on Wednesday.
Residents can use a survey – due Monday – to detail how they think the funds should be used, León said.
“Many of you have said: ‘You know the district, historically you have done everything you wanted. ‘This is the day we say … we won’t do that,’ said León. “This is a very important stakeholder series.”
He stressed that public recommendations must fall under “permitted uses”, which include, but are not limited to, mental health services, summer learning, training and professional development, and the provision of technology for online learning.
As part of the requirement to apply for the aid funds, local school districts must consult with stakeholders and consider public contributions when developing a plan for how the money will be used, the Federal Ministry of Education said in a press release.
Newark officials met with stakeholders throughout April, including elected officials, school principals, union presidents, students, parents, teachers, and held a virtual community meeting on Wednesday.
“If COVID could have done anything positive … it is definitely this allocation of those dollars to change the lives of all students and their families,” León said. “When we raise our children better, we have a profound impact on the community.”
Newark previously received more than $ 19 million in pandemic aid that was spent on face masks, air purifiers, laptops, and other COVID-related expenses. The district will shortly receive a third injection of federal aid, which is expected to be about twice as high as the second aid package. At least 20% of this money must be used for learning losses.
León mentioned that every student in the district has been given a Chromebook or laptop in case they need one, although some families have complained about faulty devices and unreliable internet connections.
Starting in September, the individual program will continue by providing every kindergarten teacher with a new Chromebook that they can take home and keep until the fifth grade. From then on, they’ll be given a new device, he said. These students will be given new equipment again in ninth grade, he said.
During the meeting, attendees shared some ideas for the federal money in a chat box, including setting up a parenting resource center, after-school activities, and a pantry for groceries and clothing.
The district must spend at least $ 5 million on learning acceleration and $ 194,805 on mental health support and services, and may use the remaining $ 79 million for other purposes.
“We are not prevented from spending more [in these categories], but we have to spend at least that amount, ”said business administrator Valerie Wilson.
Wilson added that the funds could cover expenses related to the pandemic as of March 13, 2020, and the entire amount allocated to the district must be spent by October 13, 2023.