HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR, IL — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced in September that 471 local education agencies (LEAs) would receive a total of $80,092,677 to help close the digital divide among Illinois students. Among those agencies are three school districts in the Homewood-Flossmoor area.
According to the ISBE, 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, the ISBE said.
Here's what districts received funding and how much they were given, according to the ISBE:
Homewood School District 153 received a total of $139,574. For devices, $113,808 was given and $25,767 was granted for connectivity.
Flossmoor District 161 received a total of $160,513. For devices, $131,095 was given and $29,419 was granted for connectivity.
Homewood-Flossmoor High School received a total of $190,530. For devices, $155,875 was given and $34,655 was granted for connectivity.
Pritzker said with the $80 million in funding to close the digital divide, the state is building on the goals pushing since the start of his administration, to create high-quality learning.
"Throughout this crisis, I have been so impressed to see all the creative ways superintendents and teachers adapted to the pandemic, a spirit of ingenuity that stretched up into our higher education institutions, too," Pritzker said. "This pandemic has heightened every inequality and injustice in our nation and our educators are on the front lines of seeing our young people through this moment."
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala said closing the digital divide has been a priority for the agency since March, when students shifted to remote learning.
"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," Ayala said. "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."
The ISBE said more than 1.2 million students started the 2020-21 school year with remote learning, and approximately 528,000 are learning in a blended or hybrid environment; comprising nearly 925 of all students in Illinois. ISBE also said the Digital Equity Formula Grant will help ensure students have the technology they need to access robust and equitable learning opportunities this fall.