Superintendent Joins Call for Federal COVID-19 Support of Schools

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Superintendent Tom Ahart joined other leaders from the Council of the Great City Schools in urging Congress to support public school districts in Coronavirus appropriations.

Superintendent Tom Ahart has joined 61 other superintendents representing members of the Council of the Great City Schools in calling on Congress to financially support public school districts in future Coronavirus appropriations legislation.

In a letter to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate, Dr. Ahart and superintendents from across the country note the financial challenge the COVID-19 pandemic poses for local and state revenue, as schools continue to work to support students in ways ranging from distance learning to providing essentials such as meals. The superintendents also urged support for disabilities education, Title I programs, technology, and school infrastructure.

Since schools closed in mid-March, Dr. Ahart has noted the crisis is a clear reminder that schools provide much more for students beyond what is taught in the classroom.

Below is the press release from the Council of the Great City Schools, including a link to the letter sent by the 62 urban school district superintendents.

Urban Schools Coalition Calls for Congress to Provide More Funding For Public School Systems in Next Coronavirus Relief Bill

The Council of the Great City Schools, the nation’s primary coalition of large urban public-school districts, urges Congress to approve new funding for local school systems in the next coronavirus supplemental appropriations bill.

In a letter to Capitol Hill, the organization calls on an additional federal allocation of $175 billion in Educational Stabilization Funds to be distributed to the local level through the Title I formula. The group also urges Congress to provide an additional $13 billion for the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $12 billion in additional Title I program funding, $2.0 billion for E-Rate, and emergency infrastructure funds that include public schools.

The letter, signed individually by 62 big-city superintendents, asks federal lawmakers for financial support to help offset the unexpected costs districts are incurring in providing meal services to students and transforming from school-based to home-based learning in the wake of school closures. And as aggressive as schools have been in providing instruction at a distance, districts continue to need resources to provide electronic learning devices and internet connections to every child.

Because of declines in state and local revenues, significant revenue shortfalls are looming for local school systems, as well, with several big-city school districts projecting 15 to 25 percent cuts in overall revenues going into next school year. According to the Council, an estimated 20 percent loss in combined state and local revenues would likely result in some 275,000 teachers being laid off in big-city public school systems alone.

“With additional federal funds, America’s public schools will be able to add summer school, expand the school day after reopening in the fall, retain and stabilize our teaching force, address the needs of our most vulnerable students, narrow the digital divide, and have a fighting chance at salvaging the futures of millions of young people,” said the letter.