School system releases plan for $4.7 million in federal ARP funds

Plan open for public comment

by Kate Evans

Morgan County Schools has shared their plan for spending $4.7 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding and is asking for public comment on that proposal.

The planning team responsible for deciding what to do with $4,744,748 in federal dollars consisted of Superintendent Kristen Tuttle, School Treasurer Ann Bell, central office directors and school administrators.

Surveys about what to do with the American Rescue Plan/Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund funding were conducted with parents, students, staff, community members and board members, said school officials.  Other input was gleaned from team leadership meetings, staff and community partners.

State information

Some $760 million of West Virginia American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan Funding has enabled state schools to safely reopen and provide academic help for students whose achievement has been impacted by the pandemic.

Top priorities for the final $254,348,143 of the American Rescue Plan funding for West Virginia are “addressing students’ social and academic issues, addressing the significant number of secondary learners that failed to earn credits and addressing the decline in academic performance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

West Virginia’s plan, barring any significant changes in state COVID-19 infection rates ,will be for all 55 counties to reopen for in-school instruction five days a week when the 2021-2022 school year begins, the state education department has said.

County approach, budget

Slide from Morgan County Schools’ ARP spending plan.

Morgan County Schools American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding plan targets academic needs, health services, mental health and behavioral support, personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation supplies and facility needs.

The Morgan County Schools ARP budget proposes $2,924,050 for addressing learning loss, $300,000 for after-school programming, $566,326 for summer programming, $846,789 for discretionary funding and    $107,582 for indirect costs, for a total of  $4,744,748.

Learning loss programming – the largest chunk of the spending plan – is expected to include more personnel, professional development, Edmentum and Schoology ($400,000 for years 2 and 3), online tutoring services, intervention services and a mobile learning lab.

Personnel to be added under the plan include a school psychologist, social worker, a credit recovery teacher, math interventionist, graduation coach, a behavior support specialist, a grant administrator/accountant, and four academic coaches/interventionists.

Purchases, efforts

Purchases include Tier II and Tier III reading programs, school psychologist and four academic coaches, Schoology and Edmentum, STAR and IXL, network improvements, cleaning supplies, mitigation, dividers, temperature scanners and cafeteria tables.

Social-emotional, technology and mitigation efforts will include paid admission to school sponsored events for all k-12 students for three years ($142,320), $60,000 for staff wellness and retention, cloud access points, installs and licenses ($117,500), virtual environment upgrades ($45,000), Chromebook replacements ($290,000), water filling stations, touchless faucets, air filtration and food service sealing machines ($115,000).

Student demographics

Morgan County Schools has an enrollment of 2,712 as of October 1, 2020.  Four of its six schools are Title I schools.   Students at all six schools are eligible for free school meals.

The school system has 48.3% (1085) low socio-economic status students, 17.7% students with disabilities, 290 students raised by grandparents and 326 home-schooled students.  Some 34% of students have barriers to technology connections.

The percentage of students at or above reading proficiency on the STAR assessments in 2020-2021 was 37%.  Math proficiency was at or above 45%.  Graduation rates have been declining and social-emotional needs of county students and families have been rising.

The county strategic plan  goals are improving reading and math scores by 2% as measured by benchmark and state assessments, reducing behavioral incidents by 2% as measured by end of year discipline reports and removing 5% of students from a list of chronic absences-all by June 2022.

Public comment

The American Rescue Funding plan (click on link to view)

is currently available for public comment.  It has been placed on the county school website and school websites and distributed through a link through the school app.

Paper copies will be available at the school board office for two weeks. An online form has been created for people to submit their comments on the plan to school officials.