Districts get millions more in new wave of COVID relief money

Walker County school money

WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Walker County Schools is set to receive four times more money from Washington to offset the impact of COVID-19 this school year.

“Last year we received $2 million in Cares Act dollars. We knew we would be receiving more this year, but we didn’t know it would be a lot more,” said Dr. Dennis Willingham, Walker County Schools Superintendent.

The second round of relief money jumped from $2 million to $8.2 million. It comes from a $900 billion dollar COVID stimulus package signed back in December. The superintendent says the money is disbursed to districts based on Title 1 numbers, which looks at how many students in the district have financial needs and student population. Willingham said the initial $2 million was a start down a long road to help students this year, but knew they needed more.

“Of course our greatest concern is learning, we were all virtual at times this year and had abbreviated schedules. There’s been a lot of face to face instruction lost,” said Willingham.

He says the district is excited because the money can be used to purchase extra resources for students to help with learning, but also hire more people to help students. The district has already looked into funding math coaches in schools, for example, and looked into reading initiatives to help with reading gaps.

Additionally, the superintendent says the district also plans to use the money to help with mental health resources for students, help with English Language Learners and special populations, as well as facility upgrades to help minimize the spread of COVID.

The district expects to get more information on a timeline for when it will get the money next month.

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