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Columbus City Schools To Use Pandemic Relief Funds To Help Students Catch Up

Columbus Board of Education building on April 15, 2020.
David Holm
Columbus Board of Education building

Columbus City Schools has announced plans for federal dollars the district received through a series of COVID-19 relief measures.

The district expects to receive about $450 million from the CARES Act, a December supplement and the American Rescue Plan. The catch, is that each chunk of funding has an expiration date, with the final portion running out around the start of the 2024 school year.

The first issue school leaders are aiming to address is potential learning loss from a school year spent in virtual and hybrid learning modes. The district plans to hire up to 33 new school counselors so each building has a full-time counselor on staff. They’ll also bulk up on literacy specialists to get kids caught up to grade level and work on outreach for students falling behind on attendance.

In addition, the district will devote a significant chunk of the money to longstanding infrastructure needs. A total of 16 school buildings including Columbus Alternativewill get HVAC upgrades, but those improvements won’t happen until the summer of 2022.

Columbus City Schools will also invest some of the money in technology, including laptops and wifi hotspots, and in professional development for employees.

The district has posted a survey online to get feedback about their plans.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.