The Journal Gazette
Monday, December 14, 2020 10:40 pm

FWCS board outlines need for federal virus funds

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

If U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has any doubts about schools' need for federal coronavirus relief funds, leaders at Fort Wayne Community Schools are ready to set her straight.

The board tonight unanimously approved the application for and acceptance of almost $10.3 million of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding from the Indiana Department of Education for the 2020-22 academic years.

These funds were established by the federal coronavirus relief bill created in response to the pandemic.

President Julie Hollingsworth noted DeVos' recent criticism of schools – that she claimed they don't need more money because of unspent funds.

Confusion is understandable because it's a reimbursement grant, said Kathy Friend, chief financial officer. She noted FWCS hasn't submitted all its plans, but it has spent or allocated all the money.

"We certainly would have been in big trouble had we not had all this money available to us, and we will be spending all of it plus probably a little more," Friend said.

FWCS has until December 2022 to spend the funds, she added.

A portion of the funding is equitably shared with non-public schools who enroll students living in Title I attendance areas, so this leaves FWCS with about $8.7 million, Friend said. Of that, she said, about $4 million is going toward technology, including student devices and internet connectivity.

The grant also is supporting eight nurses and help desk staff to address technology questions from students and staff, Friend said.

"There's quite a bit of different things that we've used the money for," she said. "Every bit of it was really important."

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