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Okemos schools change in-person learning plan to qualify for state relief funding

Posted at 8:04 PM, Mar 16, 2021

OKEMOS, Mich. — Okemos public schools resumed in-person classes on Monday. Now, they have one week to make adjustments to their learning schedules in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's supplemental COVID relief funding law.

The new law says more the $2.5 billion in funding can be allocated to Title I schools, which have a higher concentration of low-income students. Okemos doesn't qualify.

“There are some districts that are more out of formula with the Title I allocation, Okemos being one of them, where we don’t have a high Title I population,” said Okemos Superintendent John Hood.

Requirements for those schools to be eligible for the minimum of $450 per student were put in place.

“For the schools that are kind of out of formula and they want to bring themselves up to that minimal amount, they established a 20 hour a week rule," Hood said. "You need to offer 20 hours of instruction to all of your students by March 22.”

But the new requirement only gave the district seven days to revise their original plan.

“To hear of this law being signed and having seven school days to redo a whole plan or miss out on $1.6 million just seemed to be untenable and just not a very thoughtful approach by the legislature,” Hood said.

One of Hood's main concerns was the impact the quick change would have on families.

"The fact that our families would have seven days to rework all of their schedules, and find new child care and new start and end day times and find new transportation schedules in the middle of the day is probably what hit me the most," Hood said.

Ultimately, the district is moving forward with a new plan to be eligible for the funding.

The plan includes:

  • Adding an additional 45 minutes to each day for the middle and high schools.
  • Adding Wednesdays to the in-person schedule for the middle and high schools.
  • Increasing instruction in K through five schools to four hours each day.
  • Offering virtual and in-person teaching in elementary level schools at the same time.

The plan will begin Monday.

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