Local schools get $1.4 million in state grants

Clark-Pleasant and Greenwood schools will use more than $1.4 million in additional state funding to make sure all of its students have access to personal devices, such as Chromebooks, and internet hotspots.

The funds come from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund, or GEER fund, and are part of $61 million in funding for 184 school districts throughout Indiana.

Schools can use the money to buy electronic devices for students and teachers, as well as Wi-Fi hotspots for families who don’t have strong enough internet connections, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Clark-Pleasant Community Schools received $951,000, and will use the money to ensure students in all grades have personal electronic devices so they can complete work remotely if school moves online again. School leaders will also buy Wi-Fi hotspots to help students who don’t have reliable internet connections at home. Administrators want to purchase 2,500 student devices and 500 hotspots, said Jeff Clawson, student services coordinator.

“Clark-Pleasant learned in March how essential it is to have availability and connectivity to extend the classroom experience home if needed,” Clawson said. “If we go back to at-home learning, we can have the confidence and security knowing (students) will have access to devices.”

The award amount is about two-thirds of what Clark-Pleasant schools requested, but if the district can’t afford all the devices with this grant, administrators will discuss what other funds they can pull money from to ensure all students are connected in case the district reverts to virtual learning, he said.

“We’re thrilled, enthused and grateful for the opportunity to support our students,” Clawson said. “If we go to at-home learning, we know students will have devices and we can extend the classroom experience district-wide. It’s beyond significant for us to provide that support.”

Greenwood Community Schools got $369,627 in GEER funding. The district applied for $700,000, but will still be able to pay for about 1,480 student devices with the grant money, said Todd Pritchett, assistant superintendent.

“We had already ordered a lot of devices; this will help us offset the costs,” Pritchett said.

The grant expires in 2022, meaning schools don’t have to spend all the money now and can use it to replace older devices over time. About 20% of Greenwood students bring their own devices, while the other 80% use devices provided by the district, he said.

“The (devices) have a pretty short lifespan; we need to buy more to maintain the inventory we need,” Pritchett said. “The grant is something that has been very helpful to us. We had to purchase these devices on a very short turnaround. The grant will help fund some of the things we purchased.”