Schools use federal funds to minimize ‘learning loss’
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
The term “learning loss” is something nearly everyone involved in Harrison County’s three school corporations is concerned about. Learning loss is a term that refers to a general loss of knowledge and skills, or a reversal in academic progress, due to extended gaps in a student’s education.
And having gone through the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in numerous quarantines for students and periods of learning from home, the fear of learning loss is a valid one. But, the school districts are working hard and using Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money to make summer school, or intercession, as accessible as possible to battle that.
The Indiana Dept. of Education announced at the end of April the estimated funds that public school districts throughout the state will receive as part of the third round of federal stimulus dollars as part of the American Rescue Plan Act). Together, the state’s school allocations total nearly $1.8 billion.
“Over the past year, this is the third round of federal funding allowing many Indiana schools access to unprecedented resources to sustainably invest in their future,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “While the needs may vary from one school to the next, it’s critical that schools are strategically planning to maximize their return on investment, in turn achieving the greatest outcomes for students.”
With this funding, schools can reimburse approved expenses incurred through September 2024 that address some of the greatest challenges schools continue to face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Per federal requirements, schools must use at least 20% of these funds to support accelerated learning opportunities for students, as schools work to make up for lost instructional time due to COVID. These evidence-based interventions may include summer learning or enrichment, comprehensive after-school programs or extended school years programs.
The school districts in Harrison County are set to receive the following in the third round of funding: Lanesville Community School Corp., $316,533.75; North Harrison Community School Corp., $1,940,272.79; and South Harrison Community School Corp., $3,345,991.84.
Steve Morris, superintendent for Lanesville Community schools, said the schools have found good use for their past rounds of CARES funding to help the students, including hiring a permanent sub and an additional teacher, personal protective equipment, technology for the students, training for teachers and the continuation of an after-school tutoring program.
North Harrison school corporation is doing everything in its power to make summer school accessible to students this year to tackle any learning loss that could develop. That school system has used funds to ensure that any student who is interested in attending summer school, whether for a credit recovery course or to just brush up on skills, will be able to attend as free transportation will be provided.
Dr. Lance Richards, superintendent at North Harrison, said that Dr. Steve Hatton, assistant superintendent, and Jackie Belles, the administrative secretary, worked tirelessly on bus routes to accommodate students and ensure there would be rides to and from summer school.
North Harrison schools have not offered a summer school program for the past two years, and this year nearly 300 students are expected to attend.
South Harrison Community School Corp. has approved the hiring of numerous summer school teachers and aides at prior board meetings to gear up for the summer school period. Teachers and corporation staff have worked closely with Tami Geltmaker, the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, to note what areas of education took a hit this year or had lower test-score performances in order to focus on those areas during the summer school classes.
All three school superintendents have said it is their intention to do everything possible to ensure students at their respective schools suffer from as little learning loss, if any, as possible.