District 204 officials looking at grants to plug budget holes
Faced with continuing fiscal challenges, Indian Prairie Unit District 204 officials are eyeing numerous grants in an effort to help plug budget holes.
Deputy Superintendent Doug Eccarius told school board members the district has received four grants and applied for two additional ones. Most are designed to help low-income students and students of color in the state's fourth-largest district that serves Aurora, Bolingbrook, Naperville and Plainfield.
"A lot of people put in a lot of work, a lot of passion, a lot of hours in trying to support students but also in preparing for these grants," Eccarius said.
A $1.5 million 21st Century grant, spread over five years, will help 260 students at Georgetown and Longwood elementary schools. In addition to new staff and teacher hires, the grant provides literacy support and programming in everything from STEM to art.
The Grow Your Own Teachers grant, valued at $71,000, prepares students for careers in education.
The district will receive $635,000 over this year and next in a Peace of Mind grant focusing on the mental health ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Included with the grant are therapy dog visits, art and music programs, and staff wellness activities.
A Homeless Children and Youth grant provides $76,000 this year for academic tutoring and books.
Eccarius said the district has applied for two grants, including a Freedom Schools grant that would fund more than $1 million over three years to help low-income students and students of color at Cowlishaw, Gombert and McCarty elementary schools, Fischer, Granger and Hill middle schools, and Waubonsie Valley High School.
A $1.5 million Elmhurst Hospital grant would bring mental health clinics to Georgetown and Longwood elementary schools and Fischer Middle School.
While Eccarius also talked about federal COVID-19 funds still coming to the district, he said the district will be getting less Title I funding for low-income schools. After receiving $971,688 this year, next year the amount drops to $825,935.
Eccarius said the decrease will cause the district to reduce its support from five schools to four, including Georgetown, Gombert, Longwood and McCarty elementary schools.
"We've tried to sustain without reducing at our buildings," Eccarius said. "We're going to start gradually decreasing their supports. But we will still be providing them additional supports in their buildings to address certain needs."