Schools have been planning which programs, supports and supplies to invest in using the stimulus dollars they’re receiving from the American Rescue Plan. I use the word “invest” because it’s truly the most accurate description. These are significant sums of money (see the full Oklahoma list here) and Congress’s intention was for schools to go beyond direct pandemic relief and improve education for years to come.
The U.S. Department of Education requires districts to post their American Rescue Plan spending plan to their website. They aren’t always easy to find.
For my latest story, I reviewed dozens of plans, focusing on the largest districts receiving the most funds. Many did not post a link on the homepage. Some could be found under sections on finance or federal programs. Others were accessible only by using the page’s search bar or not at all. Very few of the plans reviewed by Oklahoma Watch included estimated dollar amounts.
When the Center for Reinventing Public Education combed through publicly available information for the nation’s largest 100 school districts this summer, it found fewer than half had posted their plans.
Two likely reasons: districts this summer were getting ready for back-to-school and many were also ramping up summer school programs in response to the pandemic.
“There’s no question districts were starting to put more resources in place to get students caught up. It’s possible they made a choice to focus on getting ready for the school year most immediately rather than getting input from families on how to make investments,” said Bree Dusseault, a researcher with the center.
Here are what some of the state’s largest districts are doing.
Oklahoma City Public Schools
Amount received: $164.7 million.
Major investments: Graduation coaches, after-school and summer programs, ACT preparation, staff stipends (for vaccination, recruitment, retention and classroom supplies), student learning assistants and STEM equipment. Link to plan.
Tulsa Public Schools
Amount received: $130.8 million.
Major investments: Building HVAC upgrades, summer school, Twilight Academy (a night school program for high schoolers), and tutoring. Link to plan.
Epic Charter Schools
Amount received: $45 million (for Epic One-on-One and Epic Blended combined).
Major investments: Cleaning services and personal protective equipment, technology for students, supplemental curriculum, 24-hour homework help, social-emotional learning curriculum. Link to One-on-One and Blended. (they are identical.)
Edmond Public Schools
Amount received: $16.8 million. Major investments: school counselors, tutoring, retention and recruitment bonuses for teachers and staff, curriculum for social-emotional learning, books, bathroom vape detectors and expansion of cybersecurity computer science program. Link to plan.
Moore Public Schools
Amount received: $18.1 million. Major investments: academic interventionists, reading teachers, student devices, online resources and a learning management system. Link to plan (it’s the last two pages).
— Jennifer Palmer
Fewer than half of parents reached in a poll by the National Parents Union had heard of the American Rescue Plan funding, and less than 1 in 4 said they were asked for their opinion.
On hot-button issues, like masks, parents in many districts spoke out. But on this huge, historic investment in education, their voices have been too quiet. [Read More]
Oklahoma’s average ACT score improved by one point but far fewer students took the exam due to pandemic disruptions. [Read More]
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