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CMSD, other urban districts nationwide seek more federal funding

The functionality of education has changed in a matter of weeks
Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 18:54:01-04

CLEVELAND — As the face of education has changed in just a matter of weeks, so has the need for accessible, reliable technology for students and teachers.

“And that’s why we’re asking for the federal government to be thinking of this now and not for it to occur later,” said Eric Gordon, Superintendent of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Gordon, along with 61 other superintendents nationwide, are asking Congress for more than $200 billion in additional relief.

“Staving off the budget revenue shortfalls that we know we can anticipate,” Gordon said, “Across the country we’re expecting a 15 to 25 percent reduction in revenue.”

Those superintendents are seeking those funds to offset costs of student meal services and the purchase of software needed for remote learning.

“We’re going to need the dollars in place to make sure that we can provide those needs,” Gordon said.

President Trump signed the CARES Act last month, which would provide relief for K-12 schools across the country.

However, Gordon said CMSD has yet to see that money.

“The CARES dollars that have already put in there are certainly welcomed,” Gordon said, “But they’re a fraction of what was even in the recovery package for the recession in 2008 through 2010.”

Additionally, Gordon said he worries Cleveland voters who have fallen on hard times may not pass a school levy closure in November, which would result in a nearly $70 million financial hit for the district.

“People’s worlds have changed dramatically and if people have suddenly found themselves in unemployment and worried about keeping their homes, that’s going to jeopardize whether they think that can support a levy,” Gordon said.

Furthermore, the jobs of CMSD employees could be in jeopardy.

“Without relief and assuming that we are going to see the kinds of budget reductions that the governor has signaled and others have, there will be an inevitable budget cut coming that will impact personnel,” Gordon said.

The Council of the Great City Schools provided more information about the request in a written release below:

“The Council of the Great City Schools, a nationwide coalition of urban school districts chaired by CMSD Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon, is urging Congress to allocate more than $200 billion in new funding for local school systems in the next coronavirus-related spending bill.

"In a letter to Capitol Hill, the council calls for an additional $175 billion in Educational Stabilization Funds. Distribution would be based on the formula for Title I, which provides financial assistance for schools and local educational agencies with high percentages of children from low-income households.

"The council also is urging Congress to add $13 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, $12 billion for Title I, $2 billion for a fund that helps schools obtain affordable broadband Internet and emergency infrastructure funds that include schools.

"The closure of Ohio’s schools posed challenges for high-poverty districts like Cleveland, including Internet access needed for remote learning. Up to 40 percent of students' homes had no access to high-speed Internet and many students relied on schools and libraries for access to computers.”