Committee reviews spending plan for ESSER Grants

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The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Over the next three years the North Attleborough Schools will receive more than $4 million in federal funds, with improving technology, summer classes, and Social Emotional Learning among the expenditures.

The proposal was made to the School Ad Hoc Committee at its meeting on Wednesday, June 9. Assistant Superintendent Michelle McKeon said it accounts for only $1 million of the funds, with the rest to be allocated over the next three years. She added that the guidance given was to enhance equity in the schools as well as Social Emotional Learning (SEL), two areas hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re charged with enhancing student learning,” said McKeon. “Accelerating learning in areas where students need support.”

The ESSER Grant Program—part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—provides funds to respond to changes in student needs caused by the pandemic. The proposal was created with feedback from school principals and the Student Services Department. Some improvements will be in place for the summer classes, and others will be completed in time for the fall semester.

Once we get those in place, we may propose smaller things as needs arise,” said McKeon.

Technology will see a major upgrade through these funds. McKeon said that the school’s online learning system will be reviewed and upgrade as needed. In addition, contracts for programs such as Pear Deck and Study Island will be renewed and continued to be used.

A number of improvements are planned to better students’ mental health. Director of Student Services Meg Camire said that universal screeners were used to identify potential mental health issues with students, and the ESSER Grants will ensure these can continue. The district will partner with the Jed Foundation and other organizations to provide assistance as needed. The Jed Foundation is a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults.

This takes a lot off of our school counselors,” said Camire.

The plan also calls for the hiring of intervention specialists for all the schools, an estimated $300,000. These would help students with learning difficulties before they are labeled as having a disability.

Other aspects to the proposal include enhancing the summertime Learning Recovery program and providing a music camp for students. Music programs were hard hit during the pandemic, as performances and even practices became a challenge. This will be presented to the School Committee at its June 14 meeting.

The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club