schools

Howard County schools expect to use a third round of federal stimulus money for additional learning opportunities for students, infrastructure upgrades and professional development.

The Indiana Department of Education last week released the estimated amount each school district in the state will receive through the American Rescue Plan Act. The COVID-19 stimulus package is the third one passed by Congress.

In total, Indiana schools will receive $1.8 billion. More than $20 million will go to Howard County schools.

Kokomo School Corporation is expected to receive the most funding in the county. The state education department estimated Kokomo schools will receive about $14.6 million.

Funds can be used for a variety of purposes and are meant to offset expenses due to the pandemic. Expenses through September 2024 can be reimbursed.

Dave Barnes, communications director for Kokomo schools, said the district is discussing how it wants to use the federal funding. Barnes said they’ll likely look at increasing social workers and teachers and improving technology for online learning.

Federal requirements mandate schools use at least 20% of funds to help make up for lost instruction time, such as summer school and after-school programs.

Other permissible uses include improving air quality and reducing virus transmission, as well as staff training on sanitation and infectious disease spread.

Barnes said cleaning supplies and professional development are also possibilities at Kokomo schools.

Northwestern School Corporation is eyeing upgrades to its HVAC system, to improve indoor air quality.

The district’s superintendent, Kristen Bilkey, said in an email they also intend to invest in after-school and summer school programs, plus staff to do so. Northwestern is estimated to receive $1.2 million.

Last week’s announcement was the beginning of a good week for school districts in education. A day later, Gov. Eric Holcomb and the state legislature said they’d commit an additional $2 billion in K-12 education over the next two years.

The influx of money into public education is expected to make teacher salaries more competitive.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com.

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