Any way you slice it, the CARES Act stimulus will bring a lot of money into K-12 this year. How wisely districts can utilize this funding will determine, to a large extent, the success they find as they create their own hybrid learning model this Fall. In this episode of the Learning Counsel’s Dawn of New Strategies discussions, you’ll hear some of America’s most successful district leaders share their plans for using the education stimulus.
According to LeiLani Cauthen, CEO and Publisher of the Learning Counsel, “The U.S. K-12 market spends about $715 billion annually. EdTech is around $36.2 billion out of that, which is about 5 percent. We're expecting as the year end numbers come in, the EdTech spend will have jumped to close to 8 percent ($57 billion) or higher. The ARRA stimulus, the one that we had back in 2009, was a $100 billion. So, it seems like it's a lot higher than the $30+ billion that came into education in this CARES Act, but there's a big difference between the two. Only about $900 million out of that, $100 billion actually went to EdTech. 70 percent of it went to capital outlays, such as construction, land purchase and equipment acquisition. The ARRA stimulus didn't just protect employment, it increased it to 1.5 people relative to the non- stimulus baseline. So that was a surprise and it's not very well known. The cares act is 13.2 billion just for K-12 another $3 billion in governor's discretionary funds, which may land a little bit in higher ed and then another $300 million in the Rethink K12 model and Reimagining Workforce grants.”
Dr. Joseph Baeta is the Superintendent of Schools, Norton Public Schools in Massachusetts. Baeta said, “Where we are right now, we are going to get about $700,000 just for infrastructure and technology upgrades that we want to make, in terms of some of the software needed for pre K-12, instead of just 6-12, then the second funding source is being utilized for playing catch up around our special education and ELL populations. The biggest issue about the funding right now for us is that, we're not saving jobs through these funds at all.”
Dr. Gearl Loden, Superintendent at Nixa Public Schools in Missouri said, “We have a $70 million budget of about 6,450 children. We're receiving approximately $650,000 from the CARES Act. So, we're using our reserves and the cares funds to continue with the fundamentals that we have in place already. We are a 1:1 district. And we have some computers that we need to life-cycle. We were able to partner with local buyers to make sure that our children had Internet connectivity. We're using Khan Academy plus building our own virtual lessons, trying to be very proactive with our PD, which is focused on RTI. Knowing that our teachers are very good at working with children that arrived that are behind, we'll have more gaps this Summer or this Fall than normal.”
Dr. Thomas Langdon is the Superintendent at Walkerville Public Schools in Michigan. According to Langdon, “This is just a small school, but the cares act brings about $90,000 for Walkerville. Some of that money already we're spending on Chromebooks and some other technology, plus for some laptops for teachers to help them. But even before this event occurred, we were 1:1 from K-12. The real issue, and the thing that's going to be a real problem for us is that the connectivity is very poor in our school community.”
Dr. Baeta from Norton Public Schools added, “The biggest issue that I see in this whole story is making sure that we don't give up our non-negotiables, you know, those things that are inherently part of our culture that we don't want to give up. But at the same time, also providing for the change that I think is an opportunity. Actually, I think a lot of us think of it negatively. I think this is an opportunity to bring public education into the 21st century. It is 2020 going on 2021. And we're still talking about connectivity with families and 1:1.
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The CARES Act will bring a flood of money for EdTech into the K-12 picture. How districts choose to spend it in the coming era of hybrid school operations will determine the success of student learning in the coming year and beyond. Watch this video discussion to hear the details of the strategies these education leaders have devised, and you’ll find well-crafted ideas that you can use in your own school or district today.