District to allocate millions in stimulus funds

Andrew Dong

DCPS conducted a survey to gauge public opinion on how to allocate the $191 million they will receive in federal stimulus funding.

The online survey was available to students, staff, parents, and community members. The survey asked people to rank several options based on how important they were to the participant, including COVID-19 support, tutoring and learning acceleration, social emotional learning and mental health support, technology support, professional development, and engagement and attendance support. 

The survey also asked participants to rank several COVID-related safety measures based on how confident they would make participants feel returning in person in the fall. The survey has since been concluded by DCPS. 

Chancellor Lewis Ferebee shared a statement on June 11 reporting general results of the survey and plans for the use of the funds. The top three priorities indicated by survey participants were academic interventions for learning recovery, social emotional learning and mental health support, and COVID-19 health and safety support. 

Ferebee goes over how DCPS will address these issues, by investing funds in these areas in ways such as hiring more teachers, hiring mental health professionals for schools, and making sure each teacher and student in grades 3-12 has an updated, dedicated device. 

Out of the 3,738 responses, the majority were parents, with the most responses coming from participants in wards 3, 4, and 6. The highest ranked potential American Rescue Plan (ARP) investments were academic interventions for learning recovery, social emotional learning and mental health support, and COVID-19 health and safety support. 

The measures for returning to school ranked “very important” were frequent communication from DCPS, information on health and safety protocols and a back-to-school checklist of ways to become prepared. 

Principal Kimberly Martin said that DCPS has a mandate for the fund to support closing learning gaps, including a summer acceleration academy and high-dosage tutoring when students return to in-person learning.

The $191 million comes as a federal investment from the ARP Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds and is to be used in order to support the reopening of schools for in-person learning in the fall and ensure students can recover from learning gaps due to COVID-19. 

DCPS has received money from ESSER twice in the past, receiving $22 million last March and $80 million last December. These funds went to a combination of learning acceleration and social emotional supports, technology supports and various general supports for teachers, schools and families. •