GARY — The Gary Community School Corp. shared plans Thursday for $71 million in federal funding the district received earlier this year.
The district was awarded $46.8 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and $27.3 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, which the district plans to put to work immediately, it said in a press release.
At the top of the district's five-priority spending plan is academics, with the district set to use the funds toward a STEM Summer Camp aimed at supporting student learning, a news release states.
The summer camp will begin June 7 and is set to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The camp is open to students entering grades K-12 and will focus on robotics, coding and core subjects.
Breakfast, lunch and transportation will be provided, a news release states. To sign up, families can call 219-881-5466 or their child’s school.
The funds will allow the district to "double down on academics," while building on the progress that has been made on the school corporation's finances and facility improvements, Paige McNulty, manager of Gary Schools, said in a press release.
Data presented in late March showed the Gary Community School Corp. had shrunk its budget deficit by 92% in less than four years, with the district ending 2020 with a budget deficit, or spending in excess of revenue, of just $1.7 million.
In comparison, the district's annual budget deficit was $22 million in August 2017 when state lawmakers tapped the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) to take over the district from the locally elected school trustees, according to a previous Times report.
The funding comes as a $71 million referendum was passed by voters in November, which created more funding for student support, as well as the first raise for Gary educators in more than a decade.
The district also is using a $25 million school improvement fund to modernize school buildings, the news release states.
“We appreciate the support from Congressman Frank Mrvan to help make this funding possible. This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students and staff, and we’re going to seize it," McNulty said.
Continuing to improve academics and building a sustainable district guided the school corporation's plan to spend the funds, with five categories created for the plan, including instruction, technology, facilities, equipment and personnel, a news release states.
The plan was shared during a DUAB meeting Thursday, where a new K-12 reading curriculum and contracts were approved for the district.
A more detailed spending plan is set to be presented at a future DUAB meeting with representative programs and initiatives; timelines for expenditures; metrics to measure the success of representative programs or initiatives; the desired outcomes of representative programs or initiatives; and the anticipated lifespan of representative programs and initiatives, the district said.