Holcomb asking board of education to make sure all schools are funded 100%

Coronavirus Watch

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb answers about his statewide stay-at-home order during a briefing at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Holcomb ordered state residents to remain in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety. The order is in effect from March 25 to April 7. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS – School funding and rental assistance were the main topics at Governor Holcomb’s weekly press conference Wednesday. Lt. Gov. Crouch also joined the governor and announced $10M in CARES Act funding will go to arts and cultural grants. This is meant to help non-profit and for-profit organizations, like museums and theatres, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Holcomb says he will ask the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) to call a special meeting to delay the fall count of student enrollment, commonly known as the Average Daily Membership, through at least December. The count date is currently scheduled for Sept. 18.  The ADM count, which is used to set new funding levels for schools, requires school districts to designate students who receive at least 50 percent of their instruction virtually as virtual students. School corporations in Indiana receive 85 percent of the foundation formula dollars distributed for virtual students

It was also also announced that another $15M in funding will be infused in the state’s rental assistance program. Vanderburgh County has the fifth highest rate of rental assistance applications in the state. In the county, 957 applications have been submitted – that’s 3.9 percent of all applications received.

Locally a Rental and Utility Assistance Portal has opened on the Reopen Evansville Task Force website. On it, resources from local organizations that help with housing and utility needs. The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility also urge people to set up payment plans with the utility company.

A settlement facilitation program is being developed to help tenants and landlords reach agreements in eviction lawsuits by using a neutral third party facilitator. The goal of the program is to preserve housing stability.

Dr. Box shared her concerns that Indiana’s hospitalization numbers continued to trend upwards and positivity rates continue to climb. 

“These steps we take in the coming days and weeks are going to be critical to reversing these trends, especially as we get close to our Labor Day Weekend,” Box said. “We have seen all of these metrics increase significantly a couple of weeks after July 4th when many people gathered and didn’t practice social distancing. My fear is that we will see another spike after Labor Day if people continue to ignore our guidance.

Dr. Box again stressed the importance of following guidelines provided by health officials to stem the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“If we want to change the narrative, we all have to do our part. So please, keep wearing your mask. Stay home if you’re sick. Don’t send your kids to school if they have symptoms or are waiting for test results.”

She also announced that the State Department of Health is working on a dashboard for the ISDH website of COVID-19 school case data. Dr. Box said the health department will need access to the most up-to-date rosters for all schools from the Department of Education – data that still needs to be put together. 

Dr. Dan Rusyniak announced the long-term care facility data dashboard was released Wednesday as part of the state’s COVID-19 website. Dr. Rusyniak said the data will lag by one week. 

“If a staff member works at 3 facilities, it will be counted for each facility but only once in the aggregate data,” he said. Dr. Rusyniak added that the long-term dashboard will update weekly, on Wednesdays.

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(This story was originally published on Aug. 12, 2020)

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