PRINCETON — Five Bureau County Schools were receipients of grants meant to close the digital divide.
Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education announced that 471 local education agencies will receive $80,092,677 to help close the digital divide among Illinois students.
Funding for the Digital Equity Formula Grant comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act directs federal funding to governors and state education agencies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dalzell School will receive $32,439; Spring Valley School District will receive $62,613; DePue Unit School will recieve $49,567; Princeton High School will receive $59,577; and Hall High School will receive $53,595.
“Closing the digital divide has been a priority for the agency since March, when the pandemic forced schools statewide to suddenly shift to remote learning,” State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala said.
“We saw in the spring that many schools did not have the technology or internet access necessary to connect students and teachers in real-time and to facilitate meaningful remote instruction. We have learned and prepared a lot since the spring, and we are excited to provide our highest-need schools the Digital Equity Formula Grant to strengthen their digital infrastructure this fall and for years to come.”
More than 1.2 million students are starting the 2020-21 school year with remote learning in place and approximately 528,000 are learning in a blended or hybrid environment, comprising nearly 92 percent of all students in Illinois. The Digital Equity Formula Grant will help ensure students have the technology they need to access robust and equitable learning opportunities this fall.
The Digital Equity Formula Grant allocates funding to the highest-need LEAs in the state – those school districts, state-authorized charter schools, university lab schools, and alternative and safe school programs administered by Regional Offices of Education with an Evidence-Based Funding Final Percent of Adequacy of 70 percent or lower infiscal year 2020 or FY 2021.
Many school districts have already purchased devices and expanded connectivity since the pandemic began. LEAs may use the grant to purchase additional devices and connectivity or to cover purchases made since March 13, 2020. LEAs will receive reimbursement after submitting an approvable application and at least quarterly expenditure reports.