Budget Survey

Investment Strategy

In Spring 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which allocated federal funds for school districts to use to address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The School District of Philadelphia was awarded $1.1 billion in ARPA Federal Funding. These funds are meant to be used for:

Safely reopening and sustaining in-person learning

Addressing students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs resulting from the pandemic

Maintaining operations and delivery of services

Guiding Principles

SDP is following federal guidance and best practices research to inform its investment of ARPA funds to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and emerge stronger from the pandemic. Best practices emphasize six focus areas: health and safety, continuous high-quality instruction, educational equity, data-driven decision making, flexibility, and accurate and timely communication. These guiding principles are fundamental to ensuring that restarting in-person learning is safe, includes family and staff input in the process, and prioritizes student achievement, high-quality instruction, and the health and well-being of all.

In addition to meeting federal requirements, SDP’s investments are aligned with the Board of Education’s Goals and Guardrails, from fostering safe, welcoming, and healthy school environments to ensuring equitable access to engaging learning opportunities. The allocations of ARPA funds will support the District’s efforts to meet these Goals and Guardrails set forth by the Board to improve outcomes for every student.

Community Engagement

In line with best practices, the District reached out to community members for input through surveys and focus groups in April 2021 to further inform spending of the ARPA federal funds. The findings are aligned with the District’s priorities reflected by the Goals and Guardrails.

The focus groups were conducted in multiple languages to ensure that family, staff, student, and other stakeholder voices were heard. The results were very similar to the survey. There was added focus on supports for English Language Learners (ELLs) and equitably distributing funds.

The strategy for investing this money is not a “one and done” approach. It is based on a continuous feedback loop that adapts and improves over the years. Change can come from new educational needs, new funding opportunities, new public feedback, and new information on what is going well and what could be working better.

Community Engagement: Click here to learn more about the survey.

Focus Areas for Spending

Our investment strategy reflects four key areas of focus:


Support Educational Recovery and Accelerate Learning.



focused on programs to support learning recovery, such as:

  • Enhanced summer learning programs
  • After-school programs
  • Before-school programs


Dramatically Expand Facilities Improvements to Provide Safe, Healthy and Modernized Schools.


To Support:

  • Improving facilities across the District
  • Enhancing the safety of school and district buildings


Support the Significant Social and Emotional Needs of Our Students.



To Support:

  • Increased social services at schools
  • Trauma response initiatives
  • Increased counselor support


More Supports in Schools to Help All Learners and Educators Succeed Going Forward.

Additional funding

To support student success, including:

  • Curriculum development
  • Information technology equipment and services
  • Investments to address Goals and Guardrails

During school year 2021-22, SDP is making the following investments to advance improvements in the identified focus areas:


Support Education Recovery and Accelerate Learning through:

  • Additional positions for schools based on principal discretion

  • Retention and recruitment bonuses for staff
  • Before and after school programming
  • Eliminate ‘leveling down’ or movement of teachers based on reduced actual enrollment for all schools
  • Enhanced summer learning programs
  • Additional supports for special education students
  • Adaptive learning interventions
  • Universal screener assessments
  • Supports for COVID response, including vaccine clinics and contract tracing

It is critical to support students as they transition back to in-person learning. Additional school-based staff ensure that students return to safe and welcoming environments.

The addition of an Assistant Principal allowed the school leadership team to ensure that we had systems and programs in place to support all of our students as they returned to our in-person learning. This has been especially impactful in the work we do at CAPA with Relationships First and our commitment to our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work.”  – Joanne Beaver, Principal, The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA)


Dramatically Expand Facilities Improvements to Provide Safe, Healthy, and Modernized Schools.

  • Replacement of school buildings with 21st century learning environments

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), air purifiers, and barriers to support student health related to COVID-19
  • Supplemental cleaning support
  • Maintenance and environmental projects to improve school buildings

Planned replacements of Cassidy, Holme, and AMY at James Martin schools with 21st century learning environments that provide safe, welcoming learning spaces for students through a contract with the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID).


Support the Significant Social and Emotional Needs of Our Students through:

  • Initiatives for schools in communities most impacted by gun violence

  • Increased counselor support
  • Climate support services, including peer mentoring, healing together, and social work support

Students are impacted daily by gun violence in many communities in Philadelphia. Social-emotional services are critical to support students experiencing this trauma.

“Relationship First coaches are the foundation that allow students and teachers to build authentic relationships, participate in community-building activities, and discuss issues that are important to them. The focus is on the strengths of the student, barriers that are preventing success, and commitments to hold each other accountable.” – Anthony Guidice, Assistant Principal, Franklin Learning Center


More Supports in Schools to Help All Learners and Educators Success Going Forward through:

  • Culturally relevant curriculum and supporting textbooks

  • Information technology, including new equipment and technical support

Students deserve a curriculum that is high quality, standards-aligned, and culturally and linguistically inclusive. New K-8 math and literacy frameworks support teachers in providing engaging, grade-level instruction to all students.

“The new curriculum reflects my students’ culture and identity, makes learning and teaching consistent, and provides measurable targets. It also is fun and my students love the themes.” – Jennifer Fagan, Kindergarten Teacher, Richmond Elementary School