State Senator John Connor is announcing that school districts in the Joliet area will receive nearly $64 million in additional funding to help address the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding comes as part of the 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.

Joliet area school districts are set to receive the following amounts:

· Joliet Public School District 86 – $ 42,595,457

· Joliet Township High School District 204 – $ 14,782,792

· Channahon School District 17 – $2,115,173

· Laraway Community Consolidated School District 70C – $1,715,538

· Union School District 81 – $351,091

· Rockdale School District 84 – $837,369

· Chaney-Monge School District 88 – $1,436,211

· Elwood Community Consolidated School District 203 – $691,737

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.

“I’m glad that we’re able to give back to our school districts and our educators after such a harrowing and difficult year,” Connor said.

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