Blueprint to Help Urban School Districts Effectively Spend New Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds

The Council of the Great City Schools has released a blueprint to help urban school districts spend new Covid-19 federal dollars strategically and effectively. It sets out overarching goals for the use of funds; articulates broad investment strategies; defines principles for the effective use of funds; articulates things that school districts should avoid doing as they plan for investing these new dollars; and asks a series of questions that leaders and stakeholders should ask themselves as they embark on planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts. The document also draws on lessons learned from previous infusions of federal dollars and summarizes the main provisions of the federal legislation and agency guidance.

The blueprint is centered on 15 principles, as follows:

PLANNING AND STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT

  1. Go slow to go fast: Resist the pressure to rush to create a plan.
  2. Plan engagement: Think deeply about who is at the table.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR NEEDS

  1. Conduct an equity-focused, student-centered needs assessment: Gather baseline data to capture current conditions and identify priority needs of students.
  2. Leverage your research department and partners on the front end.

DEFINING YOUR GOALS

  1. Plan with the end in mind and build for the future.
  2. Do not start from scratch: Build from the best of your current vision, mission, goals, values, and strategic plan.

DEFINE PRIORITY INVESTMENTS

  1. Use an equity lens: Target investments to match needs and disrupt systemic inequities.
  2. Build capacity: Invest in building staff knowledge and skills to have both immediate and long-term impact on student outcomes. Invest in educational infrastructure. Retain high performers. Develop homegrown talent pipeline programs.
  3. Focus on core instruction: Put more funds into improving Tier I instruction than remediation programs.
  4. Be student-centered: Ensure grade-level learning ignites student engagement, motivation, and builds on students’ assets.
  5. Strive for high-leverage, high-impact investments, or promising practices with a track record of success.
  6. Embrace systems thinking: Watch for disjointed projects, initiatives, or products.

PLAN A THREE TO FIVE YEAR SPENDING TIMELINE THAT INVESTS IN LONGER-TERM ROI

  1. Focus, prioritize, and sequence.
  2. Manage change: Guide stakeholders throughout the process.
  3. Ensure sustainability.

For more, see https://www.cgcs.org/Page/1283

The full guide may be downloaded here: https://www.cgcs.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/360/CGCS_Funds%20Resource%20Guide_v10.pdf

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