Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is working with community partners to launch an eLearning fund to support students in central Indiana. The Coronavirus has shown that better solutions need to be in place to address the challenges faced in Indiana. With Governor Holcomb having closed school buildings until the end of this school year, and with next fall being an unknown at this time, it was clear that additional actions needed to be taken for Marion County schools.
eLearning and other programs were created to address the need of covering short term school closers generally caused by weather. The longer closure due to the Coronavirus has raised new issues. The challenges include how to address some classes that don’t lend themselves to eLearning for longer periods of times, which includes some high school classes.
The Indianapolis eLearning fund was created to meet short term eLearning needs not covered by Federal funds as well as to support the development of a plan to address what is needed for longer-term eLearning needs. The focus is to try to meet all needs of students in Marion County
Some of the things that will be addressed with the funds are:
- Device access and internet access for low income families
- The develop a plan for eLearning for short term and longer term needs in Marion County
- Develop a plan for addressing social and emotional needs for both eLearning and for the transitions back to school buildings.
- Launching an eLearning lab. A lab for sharing eLearning best practices that can be accessed by school state-wide as well as include professional development that can be used by teachers.
The presentation done by the city was followed by questions from the press. Some of the information gleamed from those questions follows:
How will the city and its partners deal with the lack of access to the internet that many families have?
City is currently gathering data regarding this challenge. It is expected that part of the funds being gathered should be used to address this issue.
How quickly can these efforts reach families?
An advisory group of seven people is working immediately. They are interviewing superintendents and gathering advisory committee’s feedback. They plan to move quickly.
What will the process look like for administering the funds?
A seven-person advisory committee is advising and voting on administration of the funds. The intention is that they will function similarly to other funding that has been put in place for Covid funds. They want to move as quickly as possible.
Will the fund be used to buy laptops or other devices?
> They are going to access the needs around access. Laptop devices, internet connectivity issues are among items they will be targeting. They will ask school leaders what their needs are. The Mayor is looking to convene a virtual meeting will all superintendents to discuss this as they move forward.
How much would devices cost. How many students could be helped?
This is hard to say without doing the needs assessment. This will be happening soon, and the needs will be published.
Mayor Hogsett thanked those that donated/invested $2.6 million dollars has been invested/donated towards this.
How will this directly impact parents and how can they get access to this program?
Parents are encouraged to be participants in this program. This is a collaboration that starts with superintendents/school leaders, teachers, and then others including parents. Input and parental involvement can’t be minimized. What’s working, what’s not working needs to be communicated back.
Where are the funds directed?
The funds will be used for all Marion County Public Schools. This includes public charter schools.
How quickly will the lab for state-wide educators happen?
They are going to move as quickly as possible, but they want to be smart and strategic in their investment. There are some very strong learning tools in place that they don’t want to replicate. They plan to get it up and running as quickly as possible.
They are developing a comprehensive needs assessment. They will ask questions around curriculum, teacher development, device needs, and other areas the schools need developing. They will look for gaps that need to be addressed and filled.
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