school busesPARK FOREST – State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) is announcing that school districts will receive an estimated $118,495,646 in additional funding to help address the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Education during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for parents, teachers and students,” Joyce said. “I commend everyone for their hard work this past year to keep kids engaged during this chaotic new normal. I’m confident this new funding will help our students and schools move forward.”

The funding comes as part of the two most recent federal COVID-19 relief packages. Schools, students and parents have overcome challenges that no one could have imagined before the pandemic began, including remote and hybrid learning, digital connection issues, new processes for receiving state and federal aid that normally flow through schools, and more.

The majority of the funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, which gives local schools a great deal of flexibility in how they can use the money over the next 3 ½ years. At least 20% of the funding must be used to address learning loss, but beyond that, school districts can use the money to address many different issues and costs. For example, it can be used to better equip schools for safe learning, to prevent layoffs, to address students’ social and emotional needs, to fund summer programs, or to ensure all students have access to reliable Wi-Fi and technology.

The State Board of Education, in collaboration with other state agencies that address education, has produced a guide for local school districts to help them decide how to best use their resources. While the guide and other state-sponsored services are completely voluntary, the state aims to support local districts during this difficult time.

“These additional resources will better equip our schools when students fully return to the classroom,” Joyce said. “I hope that our schools will receive better state support moving forward and students will find a more individualized learning system back in the classroom.”

In total, Illinois received nearly $7 billion to support local school districts.