The amount of federal stimulus funds School District 65 will receive is still up in the air, but Superintendent Hardy Murphy told members of the Board’s Finance Committee, “I think we will get over $2 million.” He added, “That’s just a guess based on figures we’ve seen on the web.”

Illinois school districts will likely receive federal stimulus funds earmarked for schools through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

ISBE Superintendent Christopher Koch said in a special message to school districts on April 3, “The federal stimulus package could provide up to $3 billion in education funding for Illinois.” He said the “known funding levels” for the State were $420 million in Title I funds, $506 million in IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Act) funds, $26 million in technology funds, and $2 billion from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Kathy Zalewski, comptroller for the District, told Finance Committee members on April 13 that ISBE will determine the allocations of Title I funds among school districts this month, but added it was unclear what factors the ISBE would use to make its determinations. She said some of the potential uses for Title I funds include establishing a system for identifying and training effective instructional leaders, expanding early childhood education to align with the State’s early learning standards, providing professional development to teachers, and expanding before- and after-school and summer school programs for low-income students.

The State will decide allocations of the IDEA funds during the summer, said Ms. Zalewski. Some of the suggested uses of IDEA funds include obtaining state-of-the-art assistive technology devices and provide training in their use to enhance access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities, provide intensive district-wide professional development for special education and general education teachers that focus on proven and innovative evidence-based school-wide strategies, expand the capacity of preschool programs to serve preschoolers with disabilities, and hire transition coordinators to work with employers to develop job placements for youths with disabilities.

Ms. Zalewski told Finance Committee members that the State gave notice on April 13 that it planned to use most of the money it receives from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to make General State Aid payments. She said, however, “There may be some opportunities to apply for school construction funding.” She said District 65 had a list of “shovel-ready” capital building projects totaling about $20 million that it was prepared to submit as soon as the State notifies school districts about the application process.

District 65 previously provided the City with a list of shovel ready capital projects which the City submitted in an application for stimulus funds. Ms. Zalewski said, “We are trying different venues to get some stimulus funds.”

Additional funds may be allocated for technology grants and grants for school districts to compete for in the future. Details about these grants is still vague, said Ms. Zalewski.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...