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Staunton City Schools receives feedback on how to use American Rescue Plan funds

Staunton City Schools.
Staunton City Schools.(WVIR)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 5:26 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Staunton City Schools has been gathering input from the community on how the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund should be used.

SCS also got input from the Staunton Education Association and staff and administration.

$6,258,501.53 has been set aside for Staunton City Schools. 20 percent of that money needs to go toward interventions to address learning loss and mental health, which were priorities expressed during administration discussions and from the community through the survey.

“One of the things that we’re using the funds on is to hire three additional school improvement leaders in our middle and elementary schools to help address learning loss,” Brad Wegner, Budget Director for Staunton City Schools, said.

The state is adding more testing, so the school improvement leaders will help students with that, as well as more hands-on remediation and enrichment.

Staunton will also be collaborating with over 40 other school divisions to explore the best instructional practices, and the schools are also hoping to have more after school support for students.

The survey results showed that the people in the community would like to see money go toward improving HVAC and air quality within the schools and renovations to Shelburne Middle School.

“As educators, we think the best place for kids to be is in school, so we’re going to be using these funds to create a physically and emotionally healthy environment for all of our students and staff,” Wegner said.

He says it’s important to note that not all suggestions can be fit into the funding criteria, like bonuses or hiring additional personnel, since there is a cap to how much they get.

“This one-time money is a windfall, and it allows public schools the opportunity to take big steps forward. Steps that range from challenging to impossible under normal school funding processes,” Wegner explained.

The next step is to create the actual budget with specific dollar amounts allocated to the different initiatives. That budget is due to the Virginia Department of Education by September 1, 2021.

The money must be fully obligated by September of 2023 and fully spent by September 2024.

Previous emergency funding for the schools went toward providing hotspots and devices for students to be able to work from home.

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