With a pair of deadlines looming this month, the Kingston City School District will continue seeking public input on plans for a combined $21.56 million in federal coronavirus relief funding by hosting three virtual informational meetings between June 8-15.
“Think of the town halls that we had for reopening (schools), when we were able to have parents ask questions and then respond to those questions,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino during a virtual meeting of the Board of Education on Wednesday, June 2. “A short presentation, take questions, comments, concerns, ideas, et cetera…”
The district will receive $6.4 million through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act enacted on December 20, 2020; and $15.1 million through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act enacted on March 11, 2021.
The CRRSA funding is available for the district to use through September 2023, while the ARP funding can be spent through September 2024, with at least 20 percent of the $15.1 million required to be spent on “learning loss” during the pandemic. Learning loss could be addressed with after-school or extended day activities, summer learning or enrichment, or an extended school year. Learning loss spending should consider underrepresented student subgroups, including but not limited to children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, homeless children and foster children. The ARP funding will also require school districts to formulate a plan to return to in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year.
The district’s CRRSA application deadline is Tuesday, June 15; the ARP deadline is Wednesday, June 30.
Among the items cited as possible uses for some of the federal funding is summer school for grades k-12 and the hiring of a director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Padalino said that the district has to have all four years planned for the ARP funding, but that it will able to adapt as needed.
“I see this as a semi-annual conversation as we are able to put things in place, evaluate them, assess them and be able to come back and say, not only to the (school) board, but to the community, this is what we told you we were going to do, this is what we’ve been doing, this is what we’ve seen so far, and this is what we’d like to change, or this is what we want to keep saying, or this is what we want to enhance…One of the things that we want to include in this is that ongoing community engagement,” he said.
The district’s official website features an 11-page presentation (https://tinyurl.com/2v9mz86h).
that will be shown during the trio of public information sessions. The eighth page outlines the possibility of a “fiscal cliff” in 2024 when federal COVID aid ends and even at full phase-in, the return of foundation aid will not match their figures. A full phase-in is predicated on various legislative actions that could yield greater revenue at the state level, including personal income tax increases (expiring in 2027), sports betting and the legalization of marijuana.
The town halls will be held on Tuesday, June 8 at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 9 at 5 p.m., and Tuesday, June 15 at 4 p.m.. The latter two will be bilingual with Spanish interpretation. For more information, including links to the livestreams, visit: https://tinyurl.com/ycyr9ps6.