We demand that Newark Board of Education invest the $282 million of federal stimulus funds in addressing the critical learning and safety needs of its students and families, through a transparent process conducted with community input.
Newark families are hurting from the academic and social-emotional trauma of the pandemic, and this huge influx of federal funding could be transformative in helping the community heal and recover.
But the public still has not seen the district’s plan for this money. You have also failed to meaningfully engage the community in this process, even though that is an explicit requirement of the grant: “In developing plans to utilize these funds, it’s critical that states and districts bring to the table the voices of those who can best speak to how we can meet these goals, including students, parents, educators, and stakeholders.”
On behalf of the residents of Newark and advocates for child justice around the country, we are asking the district to increase transparency and community engagement through the following steps:
- Post on the district website Newark Board of Education’s existing proposal to the Department of Education on how it plans on spending the federal stimulus money.
- Create specific outreach opportunities for the Newark community and district families to share their concerns and priorities for this significant federal funding.
- Throughout the funding period (which goes until November 2024), provide the community quarterly updates on how the federal stimulus money is being spent, including facility repairs, safety measures, teacher training, tutoring, etc.
- Every month at school board meetings, report out on the progress the district is making on behalf of its students: including but not limited to (1) attendance, because chronic absenteeism is a critical issue in Newark; (2) results of the in-district NWEA assessments in the fall and spring; (3) results of the state’s standardized StartStrong assessments this fall.
Superintendent Leon is from Newark, and we want to believe that he and the school board members will do right by the city and its students. However, we remain utterly uninformed about how the district plans to spend the nearly $300 million in federal stimulus money. That’s three times what Zuckerberg brought to Newark a decade ago. Community voices have not been “brought to the table,” as required by the Biden administration.
Don’t ignore us. We will fight for our children’s education and social-emotional well-being for as long as it takes.