Syracuse colleges unveil plan for spending $109 million in stimulus cash

Syracuse, NY – The Syracuse School District will spend most of its $ 109 million Stimulus money about trying to bring kids up to speed after the pandemic year.

Suzanne Slack, the district chief financial officer, presented the details at a Wednesday education committee meeting. The district has three years to spend and must come up with a specific plan by August 31.

That to plan Slack revealed that the district’s education committee on Wednesday was broad, but contained dollar amounts.

The largest item is $ 55.2 million for learning acceleration. That includes $ 20.7 million for an intensive math program, $ 11.7 million for an intensive reading program, $ 12.1 million for the summer school, and $ 7.7 million for a virtual academy for all interested high school students.

School officials had hoped the virtual academy would be available to students earlier this school year, but it’s not clear if it will be ready in such a short time, Slack said. The district is still waiting to hear from the state whether it needs to provide virtual options for all students and other opening policies that would affect the academy’s plans.

Approximately $ 24 million of federal money is spent on coping with social and emotional problems facing children. This includes funds for hiring counselors and contracts with therapists. The district is also rolling in $ 2.3 million to improve participation in this plan.

Air quality in the district’s 33 schools, a problem long before the pandemic, will also get a boost. The plan provides $ 13 million to improve air quality and safety. Of this, $ 8 million will be used to replace windows in multiple schools. Buildings will also get new heating and air conditioning controls, additional air purifiers, and new filters for the air purifiers purchased last year.

The district will use the remainder of the money to buy more computers and WiFi hotspots: $ 9.5 million will be used for computers and $ 3.1 million for hotspots. The plan doesn’t say how many of the two will be purchased.

The county has three years to spend the money. Slack said about $ 40 million will be spent this year.

Slack also gave some details on how the district will spend $ 48 million, which it receives from another pot of federal funds, the Covid Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA). The district has two years to spend this money. The largest part, nearly $ 30 million, will be spent on hiring staff and contracts with therapists to help children with mental health problems.