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PPS Officials Discuss Plans for Federal Aid Allocation

From updating curriculum and providing more teacher development to buying personal protective equipment and upgrading building ventilation, Pittsburgh Public Schools plans to use the more than $100 million it will receive in federal relief aid to address a wide range of needs as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

City school officials on Monday met with U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, and several local members of the state Legislature at West Liberty K-5 in Brookline to discuss how the district should use the money provided through the American Rescue Plan as well as the two previous pandemic relief bills.

“Nationwide, the American Rescue Plan provided $130 billion to help K-12 schools deal with COVID,” Mr. Doyle said. “School districts in Allegheny County are going to get approximately $300 million.”

Two-thirds of the money has already been sent to states, and schools are expected to be able to apply for their allocations in May, Mr. Doyle said. Schools could begin to receive money as soon as July and continue to get monthly installments through September 2024. Schools can use the money for all allowable costs going back to March 2020, according to the congressman.

School districts and charter schools must use at least 20% of the money to address learning loss as well as the social, emotional and academic needs of underrepresented students, including students with disabilities, English-language learners, students experiencing homelessness and others.

From the most recent round of funding, PPS will receive slightly more than $100 million — the third-most in the state behind the Philadelphia Public Schools’ $1.114 billion allocation and the Reading School District’s $104.5 million allocation.

The district said much of the funding would target learning losses that occurred during the pandemic. To do that, the district said it plans to replace outdated textbooks and curricular materials and acquire supplementary resources to support students having difficulties in reading and mathematics.

At the same time, the district said it plans to build partnerships that support families, improve wrap-around services for schools and boost access to higher education and local industries.

The district also plans to invest in professional development for teachers and staff and create a teacher academy for certain content areas and grades. Officials said they also want to start a speaker series for administrators.

“One of the biggest things you can do in a school district to better your education is invest in your professional development and your teachers and your principals as well, because they are on the front lines every day with those kids,” Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said. “We want to make sure that we increase their skill sets in the areas of instruction, areas of planning and overall instructional leadership.”

The district received a total of $61.2 million from the first two relief bills. 

District officials said funds from the first round were mostly used to buy devices for staff members and students.

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PPS officials discuss plans for federal aid allocation