Public schools in DeKalb County will receive more than $6.8 million from the American Rescue Plan, the Indiana Department of Education said Monday.

The grants to school districts include:

• DeKalb Eastern $1,282,759;

• DeKalb Central $2,956,308;

• Garrett-Keyser-Butler $1,803,161; and

• Hamilton Community $803,332

With the money, schools can reimburse approved expenses incurred through September 2024 that address some of the greatest challenges they continue to face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal requirements say schools must use at least 20% of the money to support accelerated learning opportunities for students, as schools work to make up for instructional time lost due to COVID-19.

Evidence-based interventions may include summer learning or enrichment, comprehensive afterschool programs, extended school year programs and other solutions.

“We will be carefully reviewing the guidelines for the ESSER (Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds to ensure that we utilize them in the most effective manner possible,” said Hamilton schools Superintendent Anthony Cassel.

“We will be looking at learning loss remediation efforts, which must account for 20% of the funds. We will then look at staffing needs to meet those requirements.”

At DeKalb Eastern Schools, Superintendent Shane Conwell said, “The plan is to utilize funding by continuing to implement general health and safety measures due to COVID, providing student support services aimed towards addressing student learning loss, academic health, and social emotional wellbeing, providing teacher trainings and professional development, updating technology for sustainable innovation and updating infrastructure to improve overall health and safety brought on by COVID.”

DeKalb Central schools Superintendent Steve Teders said the district has spent time analyzing and evaluating current and future needs for which the federal dollars could be used.

“The COVID-19 shutdown last spring and the reopening plan this school year has had many effects on student learning and social/emotional wellness of both students and staff. We understand the importance of using the federal dollars in the most positive and impactful way possible,” Teders said.

Although final decisions have not yet been made on many of the identified needs, Teders said items identified by the district include:

• social/emotional supports for students and staff;

• expansion of summer school K-12;

• professional development for faculty and staff;

• class size reduction;

• personal protective equipment;

• additional paraprofessional support to address learning loss;

• indoor air quality; and

• technology upgrades.

Teders said additional items may be identified through the end of the school year and over the summer.

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