Emergency funding coming to local school districts, helping students catch-up remains top priority

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Public Schools has been given $122 million in emergency funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, some of our kids are lacking. I’m just being transparent. Some kids are doing great learning online, some are doing terrible and they need support,” said Anthony Hamlet, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent.

According to Pittsburgh Public Schools, support is on the way.

Administrators and local lawmakers held a community meeting on Monday to discuss the best way to spend the emergency funding offered by the federal government.

“I always say, the COVID-19 pandemic did not create new problems, it just exacerbated the ones that are already here,” said St. Rep. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny County.

“It’s critical we don’t continue to do what we have always done. We have to think outside the box. We have to think creatively, including other ways to reach out kids. This COVID mess, may have actually kickstarted us,” said Sylvia Wilson, President, Pittsburgh Public School Board.

The federal government is investing $130 billion in public education.

Allegheny County schools are receiving $300 million.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is receiving $122 million, through monthly installments beginning this summer.

Administrators with the district will be investing 20% of the emergency funding in “learning loss” programs, which will help students catch-up who were impacted negatively due to the pandemic.

Teachers will also be trained on how to help students succeed.

“Social emotional learning; How do you address mental health? How do you identify where the kid is within their learning gap and how do you accelerate them from where they are to wear they need to be?”

Superintendent Hamlet told Channel 11, the money will also go towards investing in new technology programs for every single classroom.

“We are one to one right now, every student in Pittsburgh Public Schools has a device, also any family who needs internet are providing that, that is a game changer,” said Hamlet.

But, even as the district is given the emergency funds, problems still cast a shadow over several communities, where transportation troubles remain, including hiring bus drivers.

“We are trying to use all resources available to get the kids to school but it’s currently one of our biggest challenges right now,” said Mike McNama, Pittsburgh Public Schools.