Anchorage School Board holds town hall to decide how to spend millions in federal funding

The Anchorage School District wants public input on how to spend $112 million in federal...
The Anchorage School District wants public input on how to spend $112 million in federal pandemic funds.(ktuu)
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 5:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District is expected to receive more than $112 million in the next round federal funding for schools through the American Rescue Plan, and wants input on how to spend it.

The money could start arriving as early as July, according to district Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson, but first, the district needs to decide how to spend it.

“So what are the challenges of COVID? There’s so many,” said Anchorage School Board President Margo Bellamy. “But there’s also a lot of possibilities. And I think the funding is going to help us to reimagine some of the things we’ve done the same way for years.”

The money is meant to help districts recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it isn’t the first infusion of federal cash. ASD received more than $12 million in July 2020 and more than $50 million in April of this year. That money helped fund things like computers for virtual learning and hiring more teachers, as well as covering expenses associated with summer school.

The Anchorage School Board is holding a town hall meeting from 6-7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, at District Headquarters to hear what the public thinks are priorities for spending these latest funds. Bellamy said board members also plan to release early results from a district survey that asks how the money should be spent, along with soliciting feedback on how the district is doing so far.

She’s pretty sure that some of that feedback will align with the district’s current goals of raising reading and math scores, which were weak before the pandemic.

People who are unable to attend the town hall in person on Wednesday will be able to watch it streamed live on ASD’s YouTube channel. Bellamy said the school board has also set aside additional time for public testimony at its meeting on June 1. The survey is still available for people to take on the district website.

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