Here are eight key findings from our reporting:
1. Dayton-area school districts have about a year to finish spending $818 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds meant largely to help make up for learning loss during the pandemic. But while the gap is closing, it’s still there, and the future of programs funded with this money is uncertain once the federal funding runs out, a Dayton Daily News investigation found.
2. Our investigation into federal COVID spending included an in-depth analysis of how 14 area school districts are spending federal COVID aid.
3. We interviewed incoming high school senior leaders about their concerns and hopes as their final year starts. Apathy and mental health issues are among their top concerns.
4. We also looked into school bus safety in the wake of a deadly school bus crash in Clark County. We found school buses are one of the safest modes of transportation, but safety advocates say seat belts would make them safer.
5. The mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still impacting kids, which can spill over into the classroom in the form of disciplinary issues.
6. A Dayton Daily News review of area school facilities found several districts across the region are opening new buildings this upcoming school year or plan to open new buildings soon. This is in part because of an influx of COVID-19 federal funds to local school districts and state support to rebuild schools, but also because many of the school buildings locally were in rough shape.
7. A teacher shortage is impacting numerous local school districts, our reporting found. Nearly all districts in Montgomery, Greene and Miami counties are still hiring bus drivers. Several Montgomery County and Greene County schools are still advertising for paraprofessionals, people who work in classrooms alongside teachers. Special education staff are in high demand. Schools are competing to hire high school math and science teachers.
8. Inflation’s impact on back-to-school shopping was explored in a story looking at proposed changes to Ohio’s Sales Tax Holiday. State leaders are looking at extending it in future years, with some advocating it be two weeks long.
Do you have a tip on an education topic we should cover? Reach out to Dayton Daily News education reporter Eileen McClory at Eileen.McClory@coxinc.com.