The Barrow County School System has been authorized to spend up to $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide a summer remediation program for students at each school who spent the last two months of the 2019-20 academic year and at least some of this school year learning outside of the classroom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The county board of education on Tuesday, April 13, approved the spending of funds for the program, which will “identify and serve students impacted by COVID-19 learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions and ensure that those interventions respond to students’ social, emotional and academic needs.”

The two-to-four-week program will focus on reading, math and any other areas deemed necessary, according to officials. Transportation to and from each school will be provided.

“It’s not going to solve everything that affected these students, no matter what we do, but it’s a good start to get them identified and start working on some basic things,” superintendent Chris McMichael told the school board during a March 30 work session. “It’s going to depend on grade levels and how far behind each student is. Those who have had support at home will probably come up quickly, and those without the support likely will stay behind. We’re blessed to have the money to be able to (the remediation) this way, but it’s a process that will take a couple years.”

The funds are a small slice of the projected $19 million coming the district’s way from the new coronavirus relief and stimulus legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Biden last month. District officials have not yet detailed how they plan to spend the remainder of the funds, though districts are required by the legislation to set aside at least 20 percent of what they receive to address student learning loss. The remaining funds are flexible and can be used to support at-risk student populations, distance/remote learning, school meals, mental and physical health, facilities and equipment, continuity of core staff and services, and more.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday, the BOE:

•approved a $1,000 retention bonus for school-level staff, including all full-time employees and contracted custodians at a net cost to the district of just $37,000. Most of the cost will be covered through a $1.8 million reimbursement from the Georgia Department of Education, along with $275,000 in federal CARES Act funds.

•approved a guaranteed maximum price of $1 million for renovations to the district’s transportation facility, which will be funded with SPLOST proceeds.

•approved Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates as the architect for planned renovations at Bramlett, Kennedy and Yargo elementary schools. The state department of education will reimburse design fees for the projects, said Joe Perno, assistant superintendent for system operations.

•recognized two Governor’s Honors program finalists from the district — Anna Sears, Winder-Barrow High School, communicative arts, and Elijah Gates, WBHS, communicative arts.

•heard from Jennifer Houston that the district collected $1.18 million in ELOST proceeds in March. Those collections were slightly down from $1.21 million in February.

•heard from Houston that the district received a “clean” report in its Fiscal Year 2020 audit.

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