To: Students, Parents, Staff, School – Community Members Fr: Kevin Smith, Superintendent Su: 2021 Fall Return to Education Follow Up
Following the recent release of information, related to the scheduling of the June board meeting, as well as the school corporation’s plan for reentry in the fall, a number of questions and concerns have been presented on behalf of the school community. With the support of the individual board members I would like to take this opportunity to address a few of these through this document.
To begin with, during this time of year I, and members of the board, attempt to find time to take a break, a vacation if you will, in order to spend time with family and loved ones that we may sacrifice during the school year. As you might imagine, schedules are difficult to align across multiple individuals. For this reason, and for this reason alone, the June board meeting has been scheduled on a different day and time than when it would have regularly been held. In conjunction, the board and I recognize that interested parties may not be able to attend the June session as readily as they may have otherwise, thus the agenda for this month has been aligned to those business items necessary for continued operations and preparation for the coming school year.
With the above in mind, items that we have received questions on, such as the school reentry plan, the plan for ESSER Fund utilization, etc… were moved for discussion in July once we recognized the limited opportunities we had in the respective schedules to conduct a meeting during the month of June. Further, by moving to next month’s agenda there will be a greater opportunity to have all of the board members present, in person, while also conducting the session without social distancing and masking restrictions.
Regarding questions related to the requirements for a school corporation to receive funds through the ESSER II and III programs, CCSC has submitted applications for both ESSER II and III. In order to be eligible to apply for repayment of funds being used to offset COVID-19 related expenses, a school corporation must apply, and receive approval from the IDOE, by providing an initial budget (intent for use of the respective funds). Following approval, the initial budget and intended use of funds may be adjusted as needs may change. Thus, the initial budgets submitted to the state simply allows CCSC to be placed in line to receive funds for the possible use, as deemed appropriate and approved by the board.
Note: The Indiana Department of Education grant specialists have confirmed the above as a proper way to view the application and submission process.
For ESSER II, the requirement for a school corporation to receive funds is as follows (provided by IDOE grant specialists assigned responsibility to oversee the coordination of ESSER funds throughout Indiana):
Sec. 315. A local educational agency, State, institution of higher education, or other entity that receives funds under “Education Stabilization Fund”, shall to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.
You will note that there is no requirement associated with the wearing of face masks, per the information from the IDOE.
The school corporation has worked diligently in an effort to meet the above requirement, which has included, during ESSER I, providing bonus pay to our employees focused on sustaining operations, as well as providing stipends for every staff member for the added workload, focus, and shift in scope this past school year placed on them.
In regards to ESSER III funding, the requirements are different, with a focus placed on reentry of schools in the fall, as well as addressing the learning loss of our children. A component of the ESSER III program is that 20% of the funds allocated must be used solely in an effort to address learning loss.
Other requirements include:
LEAs will assure that they have sought meaningful consultation from stakeholder groups in the development of their ESSER III plan;
CCSC will meet this requirement through July board meeting (s)
Note: The board is currently considering conducting two meetings during July in an effort to ensure proper attention is allowed for business and the planning for the fall school year; and
CCSC will provide a short survey to parents of students enrolled in our school corporation, as of the end of the 2020 – 2021 school year, in order to provide an opportunity for input.
Describe how the LEA will comply with CDC recommended mitigation strategies to reopen schools and maintain their safe operating status;
CCSC has confirmed with the IDOE grant specialists that we will meet this requirement in the area of face masking, as one example, through the use of the Indiana State Department of Health’s “Recommended Use of Face Masks”.
Note: In an effort to further reiterate the information contained in the June 11, 2021 statement, the board and I intend to share the information we are presented with the parents and the students to allow individual decisions to be made as deemed appropriate; and
Describe how the LEA will target the evidence-based interventions to support students who are underserved or were most significantly impacted by COVID-19.
It is, has been, and will be the intent of the individual board members and I, that our reentry plan for the fall be focused on returning in as normal of a manner as absolutely possible. Nothing has changed during the past ten days in this regard.
As our discussions are held, in July, a formal plan, will be documented and posted on the school corporation website.
I also want to provide an open invitation to any of our school – community stakeholders who would like to review and discuss the planned – preliminary or otherwise – use of funds, such as ESSER II and III, to feel free to reach out to me to set up a time and day to meet and review. Each month I hold open office hours and this would be a great time to conduct such a review. For June, my open office schedule will be held on the evening of June 28. To schedule an appointment please contact the office at 765.793.4877.