Whitko Community School Corporation is one of 30 school districts in Indiana named as a recipient of a grant obtained by the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund.
The $4.8 million grant will fund devices and broadband connectivity across nine Education Service Centers and 23 school districts in rural areas across the state of Indiana, as well as supporting professional development to improve educators’ capacity to provide engaging and effective online instruction in a total of 30 districts across the state, according to a news release from Whitko.
The CELL at the University of Indianapolis will partner with the Central Indiana Education Service Center (CIESC) during the next two years to disburse the funds and arrange for training. In addition to providing broadband for rural areas that frequently lack high-speed internet access, $3.3 million in funds will be used to connect families to the internet as well as to buy equipment such as laptops for students and teachers. The additional $1.5 million is supporting professional development for teachers in the 30 local districts.
The $4.8 million awarded to CELL is one of the larger amounts distributed by the state from the $61.6 million in GEER funding that the state received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to the release. CELL organized the group of districts to allow them to benefit from the cooperative purchasing of devices and professional development for their staff as a networked group. The funds allow the Governor’s Office to provide support to local educational agencies and institutions of higher education with an application focused on developing and improving the availability of remote learning techniques and technologies.
“These grants will allow us to meet the unique needs of rural school districts and ensure that students and teachers have access to the technology they require to succeed. We are grateful to the Governor’s Office for this valuable opportunity to address the immediate concerns of the pandemic and to prepare educators in these school districts for the technological demands of the future,” said Janet Boyle, RECN executive director.
The Indiana Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education, the Indiana State Board of Education and the Governor’s Office established the needs-based, competitive grant program to support the unique challenges associated with remote learning including device access, internet connectivity and educator training/development.