Indiana will receive millions of dollars in education funding under the federal CARES Act – the stimulus package to help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. And while state officials and finance experts in the state say it's appreciated, it will likely have to be just the start.
School funding is still pretty normal right now, but Indiana Association of School Business Officials executive director Denny Costerison says, schools will face a number of unknown financial changes and challenges in the coming months. He says the new federal funding will help schools navigate that uncertainty.
"It would be nice to know that when we get to August we got schools open and everything's fine and we're moving forward; no one can predict that," he says.
Indiana will receive education funding from the stimulus package two ways: a roughly $60 million grant for higher education, K-12 and early childhood education to be distributed by the governor and other state leaders. Schools will also receive about $215 million, dispersed based on low-income student enrollment, or Title I status.
But state officials cautioned school leaders about the limited amount of additional dollars during a webinar Tuesday.
Indiana Department of Education Chief Academic Officer Robin LeClaire told school leaders the funding is not exclusive to traditional public school districts. She also pointed out the initial $60 million grant is equal to the amount Indiana budgeted for Teacher Appreciation Grant, or TAG, funding last year.
And looking ahead, Costerison says there will likely need to be future action to help schools as the full financial impact becomes more clear.
"It will help as we move forward here with some of these things, but I think the bottom line is that there will probably be need for something else in the future," he says.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said during Tuesday's webinar the department is looking at several questions about the potential future impact on school revenue, including things like tax collections and school referendum measures scheduled for the upcoming primary election.
This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.