December 7, 2021

Connecticut wants students to decide how to spend $1.5M in federal relief

A new Connecticut Department of Education program will give students a voice in how federal relief funds are invested, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Lamont, in conjunction with Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, announced the Voice4Change program, which will give high school students the authority on how $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funds are spent.

“We want to hear from all voices when it comes to how these funds should be allocated, and that must include students,” Lamont said in a news release. “This is their opportunity to help make a change in their schools, and I hope they take advantage.”

More than 55,000 students in 43 school districts and 77 high schools will be participating in the initiative, according to the release.

The goal is to encourage student participation in the Voice4Change program and give students an opportunity to thrive in a global economy and life, which is part of the Board of Education’s plan for students to engage in critical thinking.

As part of the program, participating schools will create proposals to determine how to spend $20,000, provided the proposals fall in line with the Department of Education’s ESSER priorities.

Proposals that fit the criteria will then be voted on by high schools on March 11, 2022, according to the release, which is the one-year anniversary of the passage of ARPA.

Students, along with school districts and the department, will execute the winning proposals in each school, with five being reserved for Commissioner Choice awards. The awards will be given to five proposals that don’t earn ratification through the voting process.

“Studies have shown that promoting civic engagement in students can improve academic performance and social-emotional well-being,” Russell-Tucker said. “We look forward to seeing student proposals to reimagine their schools and to bringing some of those to life, empowering students to be changemakers in their school communities.”

The governor and the education commissioner made the announcement at CREC Civic Leadership High School in Enfield. Information on the program will be made available on the Department of Education’s Voice4Change website.

This article was originally posted on Connecticut wants students to decide how to spend $1.5M in federal relief