H-F receives 2 million dollars of grant money from state

Isaiah Adeleke, Editor-in-Chief

In response to COVID, the state of Illinois provided monetary relief for schools, depending on their student populations, during the 2021-2022 school year.

Housing over 3,000 students, and roughly 21% of those students being on reduced or free lunch, H-F qualified for the “ESSER I, ESSER II and Esser Digital Equity Funds” grants which totaled to $2,280,587. 

Due to the national pandemic, many professions had shortages and the bus driver shortage affected many schools in a negative way.

School bus companies across the nation — including H-F’s contracted bus company — are experiencing a shortage of drivers. As a result, routes at H-F have been reconfigured,” H-F’s transportation coordinator Candice Gage announced on the H-F website before the school year started. 

To combat this H-F spent a large portion of their grant on buses and overall this has helped the school. 

With H-F having an open campus and students walking between buildings, H-F used the money to provide shuttle buses.  Overall, H-F hired 12 buses to accommodate H-F’s outdoor campus on the super cold days this month.

Another shortage that the pandemic caused was substitute teachers. Most teachers have their own families to take care of and still have to risk themselves catching COVID which causes full-time teachers to be absent a lot more. 

“Our overall teacher absence rate is actually lower than previous years as teachers are doing their best to be present for our students as much as possible.  What is different this year, is that some of the absences are longer than previous years due to COVID isolation and quarantine requirements for staff and their children,” said superintendent Von Mansfield.

”There is a national substitute teacher shortage that H-F is also having to work through this year.”

In response to this shortage, H-F has paid substitute teachers more money.  “We have raised our substitute teacher rates from $90 to $130 per day to attract additional substitutes and will continue to recruit individuals that would be successful in the classrooms,” Mansfield said.  “We have also increased our cadre of permanent substitute teachers this year to support our students in the classroom.”

As many say, money talks, and with H-F’s increased budget from the block grants they are using it towards helping their student body.

H-F also gave Chromebooks to every single student at the school, although they did charge a $50 “technology fee.” With the new load of Chromebooks, all connected to the Wi-Fi, Mansfield had a plan to make sure there were no internet issues. 

Funding was also used to purchase Chromebooks, additional bandwidth to support the increased need for internet services, and sanitation and other classroom supplies and equipment,” Mansfield said.

The school’s biggest use of the money was on  making summer school free for all students.. 

In the past, summer school cost families over $200 a semester, not including transportation or lunch money, making this a significant change for H-F students and their families. 

With this implementation, summer school will be free of charge and so will bus transportation saving families around the district hundreds of dollars.

In terms of summer school, we feel that our students can greatly benefit from summer school as an enrichment opportunity to move ahead in their course work, while other students can take advantage of summer school to catch up relative to any learning loss that may have occurred during the school year that will be at no cost to any of our students,” Mansfield said.

H-F has put the extra money into making summer school free for all, giving substitute teachers an increase of pay and plans to use the rest for the 2022-2023 school year.