Grand Rapids Public Schools Outline Ambitious Plans to Spend $ 102 Million in Federal Relief Funds

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids public schools are set to receive more than $ 100 million in the latest round of pandemic relief funds, a historic federal investment in public schools that educators say we likely won’t see again in our lifetime.

The district presented an ambitious $ 102.9 million spending plan – which includes massive investments in academics, teaching, student support, facilities and more – at a meeting on Monday, July 12. at Grand Rapids Board of Education.

But before the district finalizes how to spend those federal dollars, school leaders want to hear feedback from parents, staff and community members on where they think additional funding is most needed.

The school district will hold a public meeting to review and gather feedback on the preliminary spending plan at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 19, in the auditorium of the Rev. Lyman S. Parks, 1331 Franklin St.

Community members will be able to provide feedback through the GRPS website or in person during the meeting. GRPS spokesperson John Helmholdt said the district will post more information about the public meeting on the district’s website and on social media later this week.

The $ 102.9 million will be allocated to GRPS through the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Assistance Fund (ESSER), as part of the US stimulus plan. The money comes in the form of one-time funds, and the school must spend it before the funds expire at the end of 2024.

About $ 18 million of the funds will be used to support the district general fund to make up for some of the income gaps caused by declining enrollments amid the pandemic. This portion of the funding will support budget items such as curriculum, transportation, guard and security services during the 2020-21 school year.

Regarding the remaining $ 85 million, Superintendent Leadriane Roby said the district is very keen to invest the money in a way that will benefit students even after the funds are spent, such as spending on technology and science. continuous programming.

“It’s one-time money, so we want to make sure we really think about how we’re spending it and planting the seeds,” she said at Monday’s school board meeting.

The spending requirements for federal relief funds are quite broad, said Larry Oberst, chief financial officer of GRPS. But there is a rule with the funds: 20% must be earmarked for tackling COVID-19 learning loss.

In the preliminary spending plan, the district proposes to invest in various academic and educational efforts, including $ 3.1 million in additional tutoring, $ 7.3 million in educational coaches, and $ 2.7 million in educational programs. ‘been expanded.

Another part of the funds will go to the modernization of the facilities. For example, the district has proposed more than $ 11 million to retrofit HVAC systems in buildings where airflow has been found to be insufficient. About $ 3 million is proposed for the roof improvement and $ 2 million is proposed for the improvement of playgrounds in various schools.

Below is a general list of some of the areas the district wants to invest money in:

  • Various academic and pedagogical supports such as tutoring, pedagogical coach, program license, preparation for tests, extended summer courses and more: $ 32,027,900
  • Student health services, such as mental health therapists and social workers, and other student and community services: $ 3,198,000
  • Technology for students and the classroom: $ 20,678,200
  • Fine arts investments: $ 1,228,800
  • Professional apprenticeship: $ 600,000
  • Facility upgrades and operations: $ 22,907,200
  • Athletics: $ 4,000,000
  • Recruitment and retention: $ 723,000

Oberst said the spending plan could be changed later, even after approval of the preliminary plan, as the district’s needs will likely change over the three-year period in which the funds can be spent.

The school board will make a final decision on the preliminary spending plan after obtaining public comments.

Learn more about MLive:

Federal funds will help Grand Rapids schools compensate for the loss of 1,000 fewer students next year

Grand Rapids Public Schools Approve $ 231 Million Budget That Includes Loss of 1,000 Students

Summer Academy Targeting Minority Students In Grand Rapids To Diversify Under-Represented STEM Fields


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