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Schumer: Federal stimulus proposal would give billions to schools, colleges

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer on the Victor Central Schools campus Monday.
James Brown
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer on the Victor Central Schools campus Monday.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that there’s bipartisan support for a new federal stimulus plan that includes relief for schools and colleges. 

On the campus of the Victor Central School District, Schumer announced some details of the proposal. 

If passed, Schumer said $175 billion would be given to all public and private kindergarten through 12th grade schools. He said a similar formula would be used for colleges and universities across the country, which would receive more than $130 billion.

“The COVID virus does not say that we’re infecting kids in public school but not in the private or religious schools, so every school is eligible,” said Schumer.

Schumer said the districts would have the flexibility to use the money to suit their pandemic-related needs.

“There are some strings,” said Schumer. “They have to use it for health and education, but we don’t say one size fits all.” 

Some examples of uses he gave were tablets with internet access for home instruction or adapting gyms into classrooms for social distancing purposes. He also discussed buying shields, masks, and cleaning equipment to help disinfect common areas. 

Schumer said the amount of money each district could receive would be based on its student population. 

Victor Central School District offices Monday.
Credit James Brown / WXXI News
Victor Central School District offices Monday.

For example, he said Victor’s district would receive about $3 million and some Monroe County districts would receive tens of millions. 

Both houses of Congress are expected to take up the proposed federal stimulus plan when they're back in session next week.

Victor Central School District Superintendent Timothy Terranova was happy to hear about the idea. He said his district, like most others, has a task force working on various protocols for reopening and keeping kids safe. 

“It’s been somewhat challenging because you’ve had to look at five to seven to 10 different scenarios, and it's hard to plan like that,” said Terranova. 

Terranova said he sent a survey to every family in his school district over the weekend and is still sifting through the more than 1,600 responses. This is one of several things that Terranova said would shape the district’s reopening. He said another came from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo provided guidelines Monday on reopening schools. He said regions can reopen schools if they’re in phase 4 and their infection rate remains under 5%. School districts in the Finger Lakes region currently qualify to do that.

“Our specific community has been unbelievably supportive of the district," Terranova said. "So we’re going to look at options to make sure it's safe and get all the kids back as best we can and those guidelines will come in handy. Definitely.”

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.