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Perry Township Schools wins $2.5M grant to boost ‘educator workforce’

A mural at Southport High School in Perry Township schools depicts the countries where students lived before immigrating to Indiana. Perry Schools has the second largest population of English language learner students in the state. (Provided Photo/Chalkbeat Indiana/Aleksandra Appleton)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Perry Township Schools will receive $2,521,025 from the U.S. Department of Education for what it called “ensuring a well-prepared, diverse, and sustainable educator workforce.”

The school district that serves southern Marion County from roughly the White River to Emerson Avenue has around 4,600 English-learner students, the second-largest population in the state, according to Chalkbeat Indiana. At Southport High School, around 600 students receiving English-language services, the principal told Chalkbeat Indiana, and district officials say they’re expecting a record enrollment in 2023 of students who have recently relocated to the United States from other countries. In Indiana, this population grew 52% from 2017 to 2022.

Perry Township Schools has a pathway project to give students a way to meet Indiana’s graduation requirements and local hiring needs, helping newly arrived students navigate a potentially unfamiliar process. The pathway project is part of a growing emphasis in Indiana and nationwide on preparing students for jobs without the necessity of two- or four-year degrees, as college-going rates have declined from several years ago and skilled trades face a worker shortage.

Perry Township Schools was one of 29 U.S. schools to receive a total of $115 million in grants for Teacher and School Leader Incentive projects.

The grants, says a news release from the U.S. Department of Education, “were designed to help districts to address educator shortages by supporting career advancement and teacher leadership opportunities, increasing compensation, and improving educator retention.”