Madison County Board of Education approves ESSER spending plan

·6 min read

Jul. 10—Mitigating possible losses from learning during COVID-19 was at the forefront of discussion during the Madison County Board of Education meeting on Thursday.

In the budget for the meeting was the approval of the ESSER spending plan.

According to the Kentucky Department of Education, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency aid to states to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Please remember, all Madison County parents, guardians and families want their children to succeed," Michelle Burke — mother to two Madison Central High School students, a parent representative executive board member for Kentucky Association of School Councils and parent representative advisory council member for the Prichard Committee Groundswell Initiative for Family Engagement — said during Thursday's Madison County Board of Education meeting.

Burke spoke on behalf of Madison County parents and families and represented how they wished for the third relief package of the elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund to be spent by the district.

Burke said the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is an extension of the elementary and secondary relief funds, and the Richmond school district had been awarded $22.9 million in funds. The ARP requires districts to create education recovery plans which include funding for tools to measure learning loss amongst students and after-school and summer school enrichment plans.

Burke said under these guidelines, the district must also create education interventions which address learning loss and students' social and mental health needs. Also, all interventions must equitably meet the unique needs of students living in poverty.

Later in the meeting, Mark Woods, chief financial officer, also spoke about the ESSER spending plan.

With the ESSER ARP, Woods said there was a 20% requirement to go towards evidence-based targeted intervention services. He said the percentage would be $4,398,331 based on the district's total allocation.

"We want to do that to the best of our ability," Woods said.

He explained every service implemented would be evidence-based, which includes interventionist positions. Woods said there would be one interventionist per school (kindergarten through eighth grade) to look at gaps in the student population at their particular school. They will then be working with the district on the district's initiative to meet those gaps. There are also reading and math intervention programs as well as behavior intervention programs.

The budget is a three-year plan, and Woods said the plan does include summer school.

"We want to continue keeping that ball rolling," Woods said. "Meeting those gaps and helping kids move to the next level, not just finishing where they were at for that year."

Woods went on to say the budget plan does have money in curriculum and academic program support.

"I told you that the requirement is $4.389 million; well, we have $9.4 million budgeted to spend on targeted services," Woods said. "We want to make sure we meet the needs of our students in Madison County."

In addition to funding targeted intervention services, the board has designated other funds to assist the district's schools in meeting student's needs which do not meet the "targeted services" definition.

Woods said, as a reminder, this is a three years spending plan.

The ESSER ARP funds will not be sent to the district upfront. Instead, they will receive a small portion to get started, and the remainder will be on a reimbursement basis, meaning the district will spend the money and then invoice the state for funds spent.

For targeted services, the ESSER ARP budget proposes $963,521 be spent on indirect funding, $4,712,396 be spent on additional staffing, $1,145,286 be spent on reading and math intervention programs, $1,001,787 be spent on behavioral intervention programs, $1,081,067 be spent on summer school, $300,000 be spent on curriculum and $294,000 be spent on academic program support. For other costs, the ESSER ARP budget proposes $1,288,743 be spent on indirect funding, $2,946,445 be spent on allocation for schools, $942,743 be spent on furniture, technology, and equipment; $3,653,333 on staffing; $1,500,000 be spent on HVAC; $810,000 be spent on teacher supplies and $1,442,333 be spent on instructional program support.

The board motioned to approve the ESSER spending plan as presented.

The board also approved the names of the two new Area Technology Centers.

Superintendent David Gilliam explained the names of these two buildings was something the board had discussed the last few months.

"We have two facilities coming in at the same time," Gilliam said. "We want to make sure we have an identifiable name that will work for both sites, but at the same time distinguish both sites."

The board decided on calling the Richmond ATC, The Ignite Academy of Madison County North Campus and the Berea ATC, The Ignite Academy of Madison County South Campus.

"It flows well and incorporates with our existing logo," Board Chair Lori Cobb said.

"I like the inclusion of the word academy," Beth Brock said. "... It also adds that academic portion to it. Because these career centers are multi-use. We want to help train with skills for students to move forward as a skilled laborer and be successful. But, it is also a stepping stone for students who want to further their educational careers."

Other business:

Superintendent David Gilliam introduced two new principals to the district. Derrick Bussell, who has been an educator for the past 15 years, will be the new principal of Kirksville Elementary. Josh Shockley, who has also been an educator for the past 15 years, will be the new principal of Shannon Johnson Elementary.

The board voted to extend Gilliam's superintendent contract through June 30, 2025.

The board approved their agreement with ACT. This allows the schools in the district to provide sophomores and juniors with the chance to take the ACT in the October and Fall administration period. The total cost is $68,328 based on 1,898 students. ESSER funds will be used to pay for the tests.

The board moved to set meal prices for the 2021-2022 and the 2022-2023 school year. Madison County is a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) district, which means all students get their meals free. However, the state still requires them to set prices for the next two years.

The board approved extended days for psychologist positions. This includes 10 extended days for school psychologists across the board, and two psychologists will have five extended days for preschool evaluations.

The board approved the second reading of policy updates.

The board created and ratified a family service worker position for Boonesborough Elementary.

The board created and ratified a student support position at Madison Southern, a rank four teacher, and will be funded by the school using section six funds.

The board approved the BG-1 for the baseball and softball dugout projects. These projects include dugouts and storage facilities at each high school, new bleachers at Madison Southern, and a new press box at Madison Central. The total construction cost will be $380,000 and will come from funds the board has been saving over the last few years to use for athletic facilities.

The board went into executive session n to discuss potential real property acquisition or sale for which

publicity at present stage would likely affect the value; per KRS 61:810(1)(b) and to discuss

pending litigation for which disclosure would compromise posture; per KRS 61.810(1)(c), however, no action was taken.