INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. education officials have approved the Indiana Department of Education’s plan to use its remaining funding allocated by the American Rescue Plan.
Roughly $1.3 billion for schools has already been sent to Indiana under the American Rescue Plan, according to the U.S. Department of Education, with another $666 million now released.
Franklin Community Schools has received about $7 million in federal COVID relief since the pandemic began, according to superintendent David Clendening.
“We used it for ventilation at one of our elementary schools,” Clendening said. “We’ve additionally supported our special education programs, adding four teachers as well as additional assistants.”
Clendening said those are just some of the ways his district has used that funding. The additional staff members will help the district address learning loss over the past year, he said.
“We have students that have a lot of learning struggles, and we wanted to make sure that we’re providing both enrichment and acceleration for them,” Clendening said.
The Indiana Department of Education’s plan focuses on getting kids caught up in the classroom and tracking student performance data to see how they’re doing.
One area of focus detailed in the plan is keeping schools open, working with the Indiana State Department of Health to provide guidance on safety measures.
It will also use the funding to recruit teachers in areas with most need, such as special education.
IDOE is also looking for new ways to accelerate learning, and those may include programs offered during the summer and after school, according to the documented plan.
In the meantime, educators acknowledge getting students caught up in the classroom will take time. Clendening said he believes that time will need to include more student interaction with teachers.
“We’re looking at continuing to provide both small and large group settings for our students to accelerate and also use resources that are available,” Clendening said.
It’s not clear how soon this final round of funding may be distributed throughout the state.