Atlanta Public Schools plans for $201 million in federal pandemic aid

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring, shown in this file photo, outlined her administration's plans to spend more than $200 million in federal stimulus dollars.  Curtis Compton/AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring, shown in this file photo, outlined her administration's plans to spend more than $200 million in federal stimulus dollars. Curtis Compton/AJC FILE PHOTO

Atlanta Public Schools is seeking public input on how to spend more than $201 million in federal stimulus funding.

The district released a budget overview for the American Rescue Plan, the third and biggest round of financial aid intended to help school systems respond to challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials are soliciting comments now via an online form.

The district said it plans “to utilize that funding to address several critical areas, including academic recovery and intervention, social emotional learning, and student and staff health and well-being.”

Nearly half of the funds, or $99 million, are earmarked to address learning loss that occurred after classes moved online in spring 2020. APS began reopening campuses in January, but about 60% students finished last school year in online classes.

When school resumes in August, almost all of the district’s students will be learning in-person.

The district is investing heavily in an academic intervention effort. School schedules will be adjusted to add blocks of time to focus on math and literacy. Elementary school day will be 30 minutes longer.

APS also plans to use the federal money to pay for more robust summer programming for this year and the next two years.

The remaining federal funds will go to technology, stipends to recruit and retain teachers to work in high poverty schools and in special education, upgrading heating and ventilation systems, as well as mental health support and other initiatives.

About $46 million of the $201 million will go to Atlanta charter and partner schools. APS oversees those schools through contract agreements, but outside agencies and charter networks are in charge of daily operations and staffing.

Two previous stimulus packages allocated to APS during the pandemic totaled about $112 million.

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