Local schools get help with connectivity thanks to governor’s grant

East Washington School Corporation and Salem Community Schools were co-recipients of $162,588.54 in grant money that will be used to help with connectivity.

West Washington will receive $30,000.

The money is part of $61 million made available to schools through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund.

Salem Superintendent Jon Acton said connectivity has been a high priority in preparing for virtual learning.

“Both corporations identified needs to extend internet connectivity for our communities,” Acton said. “We believe mobile hot spots will help students/families in both communities.”

The grants will not erase the connectivity issue totally at either school corporation.

“This will not make 100 percent connectivity for either community, but it will create opportunities for students/families that have not been able to connect before,” Acton said.

Some of the money at Salem is being used for mobile hotspots, as well.

Acton said those will be put on school buses and driven out into the community and families will be able to bring students to the bus and they’d be able to connect to the internet their.

West Washington will receive $30,000 and that money will be used for connectivity, as well.

East Washington, Salem and West Washington also received a proportionate share of $50,000 from the WCCF for internet accessibility (see story below).

Governor Eric Holcomb said in a release about the grants he is glad Indiana is able to help school corporations and families in this area.

“Indiana’s students, parents and teachers have worked hard to adapt,” Holcomb said. “These emergency funds will enable Hoosier students to be more successful with remote learning. Some families will now worry less about internet connectivity, more students will have access to the technology needed at home, and more educators will have the necessary devices to teach remotely.”

Applicants submitted plans that included: the purchase of student devices including Chromebooks and iPads; new or upgraded laptops, MacBooks, Chromebooks, and iPads for teachers and Wi-fi devices with corresponding subscription plans for families who lack reliable internet connectivity.

These grants will fund a minimum of 68,689 student devices, nearly 2,900 teacher devices, and more than 85,800 connectivity solutions, according to the information provided by applicants.

Grant awardees include 184 traditional school corporations representing 1,366 schools, 64 public charter schools, and 124 non-public schools. There are almost 674,500 students enrolled in schools receiving these grants.

Twelve institutions of higher education will receive more than $11 million. This money will fund specialized training to better support parents and families, students with special needs, English learners, and provide social-emotional learning resources during virtual/remote learning. The initiatives are designed to directly assist K-12 teachers, including targeted professional development opportunities for eLearning, curated curriculum content, and technical assistance in implementing online curriculum. These resources will be made available at no cost to Indiana K-12 teachers.

GEER was established by the federal CARES Act.

Traditional public school corporations, public charter schools, accredited non-public schools, higher education institutions, and other education-related entities were eligible to apply. An application could be completed by a single school corporation or a combination of eligible education entities.

The 257 applications received were evaluated by a team from the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, and the Indiana State Board of Education.

A detailed breakdown of grant recipients is available at www,inoe.in.gov.

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