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Syracuse City School District reveals plan for ARPA funding

Creative Commons

The Syracuse City School District is releasing more information about how it hopes to spend $109 million in funding from the federal government.

The money is part of the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, and is intended to help school districts recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Syracuse City School District officials reached out to the community for feedback about how they should spend the funds and received a large response of more than 2,100 surveys.

District Chief Financial Officer Suzanne Slack said the results were “fascinating.” The district has narrowed the plan to five major areas.

The largest pots of money will go toward learning, which will receive $55.2 million and social-emotional support, which will receive $24.5 million. Slack said the district will not know the full extent of the students’ educational, social, and emotional needs until school starts up again. However, officials are preparing for those needs to be substantial.

"The educational piece and the social-emotional piece, it's not a one and done,” said Slack. “We are hopeful that over time, it will dwindle and go down, but it's going to be a multi-year expenditure for sure."

The other three areas are air quality and safety, which will get $13.2 million, technology, which has been allocated $12.5 million, and professional development, which is set to get $3.5 million. Some components of professional development will also fall within the learning and social-emotional support categories.

While district officials were excited to get the funding, Slack said the process of paring down wish lists and allocating the money was a little tricky.

"The danger is if you use this money to build something that you want to be ongoing, once the money is expired, we have to find funds to keep that great program going," Slack said.

She hopes the community keeps in mind, the federal funds will be able to provide additional support to many programs the district already has underway. For example, SCSD already has programs and therapists in place to provide emotional support to students, but they are able to enhance those offerings with the help of the ARPA funds.

The district has to submit its plan for the ARPA funding by the end of August and has until September of 2024 to use the money.