The Long Beach Post has reported that Long Beach Unified School District is set to receive $99.4 million in federal funds from the December 2020 relief package. The money is based on LBUSD’s low-income and otherwise disadvantaged Title 1 student population. LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou told the Long Beach Post in an email that the district has been using federal funds from the earlier relief package for “technology, professional development, nutrition of students, distance learning and personal protective equipment.”
But what do Poly students think the district should use the money on? Our panel of writers made some suggestions.
With the grant of 99.4 million dollars given to the Long Beach Unified School District through the government’s relief funding, a lot of betterment can be done to the schools that LBUSD resides over, as well as those who work and learn there.
With everyone stuck within their own homes for the time being, possibly until the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022, using that amount of money to tear down and rebuild some of the worst areas of the older schools would be a possible endeavor that could be done with the money. Allowing the schools to remain closed until the autumn/winter semester of 2022 would give the school board enough time to plan, budget, and rebuild some of the worst buildings that could become hazardous.
If the reconstruction of hazardous areas is not a priority, however, the money could still be used for the reconstruction of schools, changing some of the unused, and more unused bathrooms into “sanitary stations”. With Covid-19 back on the rise in early 2021, schools may need to push back in-class schooling until the vaccine is distributed regularly and avoid of more severe effects, but for those who simply will not wait for such a time, having stations within the school where children and teens can pick up gloves to replace their ripped ones, pick up or refill their hand sanitizer, or replace masks they might accidentally throw away or break would help everyone stay safe at school.
Using that money to redo anything about the standing school (repainting, cleaning, new desks, new supplies, etc.) would be a positive change for any high schooler that would be going back to school when it’s finally safe to do so.
As an LBUSD student, I believe the most important area in which the budget can go is investing in better laptops for the students who cannot afford their own. First of all, the chromebooks that the school provides are not guaranteed to work well. Many of my friends and myself have a chromebook from school, and we have faced many issues. My chromebook, in particular, cannot handle having more than three tabs open when I am using zoom. This is a problem, because teachers usually require us to have multiple tabs open, whether it be a google doc, website, or peardeck. When I do have my zoom and more than 3 tabs open, the zoom becomes laggy and I cannot access the websites quickly, and at times I get disconnected. This causes stress, especially if the teacher gives a timed assignment. In addition, when I do get disconnected, I struggle in refocusing when I rejoin.
In addition, the school can direct some of the money in helping students transition to a life with COVID-19. By this, I mean helping students cope and learn what to do when a family member is hospitalized. For me, when my dad was diagnosed with COVID-19, my family and I struggled in knowing what to do when he was sick, especially when his condition worsened. There seemed to be a lack of clarity of what to do, especially when we called an ambulance they would not take him to the hospital. So we had to take him to a hospital ourselves but did not know whether to go to urgent care or the emergency room. Furthermore, when he was admitted to the hospital, we had difficulty in learning how to pay bills. This caused immense stress, interrupting my motivation to learn. I believe some resources that may help include available/well known hot-lines or places that can aid families with bills, grocery, and information. In addition, these resources should also provide access for those whose first language is not English.
Lastly, a resource that can directly help students during distanced learning is one-on-one tutors or a mentor who can track their grade and provide them support; this can be a tutor who students check up with or just someone who can be relied on for advice. These tutors should go towards the students who are evidently struggling the most with online school and want help (because if they need help but do not want it there will be lots of resistance on their part). This program could assure that the students who do not have the support at home can have access to what they need through Poly.
I think that LBUSD SHOULD use the money on giving the students cord baggies filled with mask, hand sanitizer, thermometer. They also should provide better food. This is a good idea because if the students do not have a clean mask at home they have a mask in the bag. Another reason this a good idea to spend the money on the baggies is so students have hand sanitizer with them at all times and it would be easy to get out their backpacks they can also use it if they are in a rush between classes. A third reason this a good idea that should use the money on is the students have a thermometer to see if they have a fever before they go to school to let them know if they should stay home or not. I also think that LBUSD should use the money on better food. This is a good idea because the school food now is okay, but it is not the best food.