Mt. Vernon is one of many school districts that has been selected to receive $185,000 through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to improve online school instruction. This grant was applied for in partnership with the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis and the Central Indiana Educational Service Center. Congress previously set aside approximately $3 billion in the CARES Act to be allotted to U.S. schools through the Governor's Emergency Education Relieve Fund (GEERF).
CELL received $4.8 million in two grants from the GEERF. The first grant is $3.3 million, and this will be used to fund devices and broadband in nine service centers and 23 school districts across rural Indiana, including Mt. Vernon. The second grant, for $1.5 million, is designated to be used for professional development to improve educators’ capacity to provide engaging and effective online instruction.
Mt. Vernon qualified for funding under both grants. The first grant funding is being used for devices and connectivity, specifically to update staff Chromebooks and expand wireless access in the school buildings. The second grant funding will provide a learning opportunity for staff to further advance their methods of digital instruction. These funds will be disbursed over the next two years.
While most of our students have reliable internet access at home, approximately 10% of Mt. Vernon students do not. “Quality high-speed internet access is no longer a luxury in our society as many more elements required to manage life are accessed through the world wide web. This is even more pronounced for the world of education.” shared Dr. Jack Parker, MVCSC Superintendent. While we are fortunate that NineStar Connect has provided a few outdoor access points covering three Mt. Vernon schools’ parking lots, some students still struggle with access to complete their online schoolwork.
Dr. Janet Boyle, CELL Executive Director states, “These grants will allow us to meet the unique needs of rural school districts and ensure that students and teachers have access to the technology they require to succeed. We are grateful to the Governor’s Office for this valuable opportunity to address the immediate concerns of the pandemic and to prepare educators in these school districts for the technological demands of the future.”