The Saugerties Central School District (SCSD) has narrowed down its plans for more than $6.5 million in federal aid, including extended learning, curriculum enhancement and an increased focus on social and emotional learning.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Act (CRRSA) signed in December 2020 will bring the SCSD $2,299,905, and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) signed in March 2021 will include a direct allocation of $3,506,481, plus an additional $700,000 earmarked for learning loss. With both grants, school districts are working under a time crunch: CSRRA funding must be spent by September 30, 2023, and ARP funding must be spent by September 30, 2024.
In the case of the CSRRA funding, the district has to focus its efforts on learning loss and reopening schools.
“The district is going to be responsible for reporting on how we are measuring and addressing learning loss among students, particularly for the low income students with disabilities, English, learners, minorities, homeless and foster students,” said the district’s business manager Jane St. Amour during a virtual meeting of the Board of Education held on Tuesday, July 13.
As for the ARP funding, in addition to the additional $700,000 received by the district, at least 5 percent of the $3.5 million must be spent on evidence-based learning loss interventions, 1 percent on summer enrichment programs and 1 percent on after-school programs.
“(It) must be spent to address learning loss through implementation of evidence-based interventions and how those interventions respond to students’ academic, social and emotional needs and address underrepresented student groups,” St. Amour said.
The district’s stated goals are to assure school safety for the return of 100 percent of students to the classroom; reach new long-term heights in teaching and learning; enhance student-centered, higher order thinking and inquiry-based learning in all classrooms; and to set the district’s students up to succeed beyond the funding range.
Extended learning to provide students in grades K-6 opportunities for academic reinforcement would include 1-2 hours of after school teaching and learning from Monday through Thursday, with evidence-based targeted interventions supported by certified teachers. The program would include transportation and materials. Among the possible courses would be math fluency, math skills and drills, ELA “Fundations” and ELA reading fluency.
An extended school year for all students would include enriching summer school for students in grades 7-12, and a K-6 summer academy. The latter would be three four-day weeks from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., with a pair of 90-minute sessions focusing on ELA and math. Breakfast and lunch would be provided, along with transportation to and from a student’s home school.
To support social and emotional learning, the district already included in its 2021-22 budget the hiring of a second social worker for grades 7-12, and the increase from part-time to full-time of a guidance counselor to help support the transition from elementary school to junior high. With the federal coronavirus aid, the district is planning to hire two additional support personnel, is researching flexed hours for after-school counseling, and is adding a full time social worker at the elementary level; currently the district shares two between its three elementary schools.
Additional academic supports in the plan include a literacy coach and a mathematics coach for grades K-6, ELA and math support for grades 7-12, a credit recovery and in-school suspension coach for grades 7-12, and four full-time teaching assistants to support learning centers for grades K-2. The math and ELA staff would focus on response to intervention with small-group instruction, would assist classroom teachers with strategic interventions and would provide individual targeted intervention for students in greater need.
Also planned is the hiring of a district-level director of curriculum and instruction to oversee curriculum and instruction realignment to New York State Education Department (NYSED) standards due to learning loss during the pandemic.
The district’s plans also include hiring an accountant to monitor spending and complete reporting requirements for the federal funding; a new custodian to help maintain increased sanitizing; expanding transportation offerings to support extended school days and summer programs; the purchase of new student Chromebooks; revising and realigning curriculum to meet the needs of students and close learning gaps; and the purchase of PPE to maintain in-person instruction until the pandemic is totally over.
While the district met its July 1 deadline to post its plans for the federal funding to the SCSD website, it is still accepting feedback from the public by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.