The Wayne Community School Board met on April 19 where Superintendent Mike Still informed the board Wayne’s allocation from the Iowa Department of Education on ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) would be $1,283,971.
“The easiest way to explain the use of these funds is the expenditure or purchase must be due to COVID-19,” stated Still. “Twenty percent of these funds must be spent on recovering student learning loss.”
“It sounds all fine and dandy except for the fact of thinking this summer, with summer school we could use that to get that twenty percent, but we can’t,” Still continued “We can’t because we have to spend ESSER II dollars before spending ESSER III dollars, but there isn’t a twenty percent learning loss tied to ESSER II. The Department of Education is trying to work on some of that, but hasn’t been real successful in changing the planning of federal funds so I wouldn’t count on that.”
The twenty percent amount for Wayne on ESSER III comes in at $256,794. Wayne also holds $571,000 in ESSER II with all funds being a part of the American Rescue Plan. Still worked together with Elementary Principal Boyd Sinclair and Secondary Principal Stacy Snyder to provide a list of possible ways to use the funds.
Still listed the possibility of looking at classroom sizes with classroom teachers to keep the classes smaller as well as helping fund the social worker after the days increased from once a week to three days. Still also stated when looking at contracts next year he will request the contract for the social worker become three days a week moving forward seeing the positive support and utilization of the position.
Other items listed as possibilities include summer school at the elementary, credit recovery in the secondary school, personal protective equipment, a new bus for the use of an in-town route to keep numbers down on other buses along with any additional costs with an extra bus route, classroom technology, security system upgrades, network upgrades, additional bus trips, water bottle filling stations, HVAC, cleaning machines, concrete for the new bus pickup and drop off, afterschool program for next year, match curriculum interventions and read naturally lives program.
Still noted some of the items listed are also tied into the school upgrade project that is being looked into at this time.
“I just need direction from the board if you would like to have a board work session to sit down and gather these costs to know where we are at or if you agree with the list,” said Still. “Guidance on which direction to go would be beneficial to me.”
Board member Dan Carpenter questioned if money would be available to apply towards student internet availability as provided this school year.
“Not to burn through the money, but if you have to spend it I wondered about making it available to every student,” said Carpenter.
Still stated the school fulfilled their commitment of $13,500 towards internet access for students this school year only.
“I don’t know if the internet other than for the online kids only has really been utilized,” stated board member Brandon Carpenter. “My kids get their work at school and get it done and that’s that and I’m hoping it continues to be more that way next year. I don’t know if the internet would be, . . it would be nice to offer that to people, but I don’t know that it’s going to be a necessity like it could have been this year.”
Still added in that hotspots are available, with very few kids taking advantage and stated the money has to be spent by June of 2023. Board members Dan and Brandon agreed they liked the idea of the new schoolbus.
“My opinion is you guys [addressed to Still, Snyder and Boyd] know what you need and we move forward,” said board member Bill Byrns.
The board suggested it would be bebeficial to put together dollar figures and access the needs of how best to spend the funds.
In other business, Snyder informed the board the school district had been notified of being named a National Showcase Capturing Kids Hearts Building.
“There were seven buildings recognized in the State of Iowa and here at Wayne, we hold two of those buildings,” said Snyder. “I feel like this is a pretty good honor. I am going to do an official celebration with my staff and students on April 26.”
Also in discussion the board will be looking into receiving additional bids for the work to be completed on the grading of the bus barn. One estimate had been received however the board members believed to be fair they would seek additional bids of other local contractors that may be interested.
The next board meeting has been scheduled for Monday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m.