Follow the Money: Workshop for Illinois Reporters on Covering COVID-19 Relief for Schools

All recorded sessions from the Feb. 8, 2022 workshop for Illinois reporters.

Photo credit: Allison Shelley for EDUimages

COVID-19 Relief in Illinois: A View From the State Board of Education

The federal government has allocated billions of dollars to schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. What does that mean for Illinois? Officials from the state board of education explain what’s at stake and what the state hopes to accomplish. They also discuss key developments and milestones as the state itself and local districts spend relief dollars for education recovery.

  • Darren Reisberg, chair of the Illinois State Board of Education (and executive vice president at The Joyce Foundation)
  • Krish Mohip, deputy officer of operational education, Illinois State Board of Education
  • Emily Hays, reporter, Illinois Public Media (moderator)

A Crash Course on Federal Stimulus Dollars

The school districts you cover are flush with federal cash, thanks to several rounds of COVID-19 aid from Washington. But what are the rules for how and when it can be spent? How can you tell if districts are meeting those obligations and spending in ways that benefit students? An expert explains the ins and outs of the law and an investigative journalist shares tips gleaned from her own reporting on the subject.

  • Sheara Krvaric, co-founder, Federal Education Group
  • Annie Waldman, education reporter, ProPublica
  • Sarah Karp, reporter, WBEZ Chicago (moderator)

Statewide Strategies to Support the Education Recovery

While the majority of federal relief funds are flowing through local school districts, a portion was set aside for each state. Learn about state-level initiatives in Illinois touching on learning recovery, social and emotional learning and postsecondary success.

  • Stephanie Bernoteit, executive deputy director for academic affairs, Illinois Board of Higher Education
  • Patty Diaz-Andrade, chief impact officer, OneGoal
  • Ann Whalen, director of policy, Advance Illinois
  • Samantha Smylie, state education reporter, Chalkbeat Chicago (moderator)

On the Ground: Local Leaders Discuss the ‘Whys and Hows’ of Spending COVID Aid

Superintendents discuss how they plan to spend these new funds and the challenges associated with them, from avoiding recurring expenses that will create a fiscal cliff in the future to adapting to address the latest pressing problems caused by the pandemic.

  • Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, superintendent, Peoria Public Schools
  • Victor Simon III, superintendent, Gower School District 62
  • Emily Warnecke, director of public relations/deputy director for governmental relations, Illinois Association of School Administrators (and until recently a local superintendent)
  • Brandis Friedman, co-anchor and correspondent, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight (moderator)