September/October 2021 Issue
August 21, 2021

NY schools slated for $9 billion from feds to support school reopening

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
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LaFargeville is using federal relief funds to reduce K–2 class size. Liverpool is adding mental health support staff and expanding counseling clinics.

Binghamton is extending its school day. Numerous districts are hiring more teachers to provide academic intervention services.

In all, New York schools are in line for $9 billion in American Rescue Plan emergency relief funding to help schools reopen safely and meet the vast array of additional student needs brought on by COVID-19.

The state’s ARP plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education over the summer focuses on three priority areas for schools as they prepare to open this fall: addressing the academic impact of lost instructional time; implementing evidence-based interventions; and offering social-emotional support.

New York’s plan specifically calls for investing in early learning by expanding existing programs and funding new full-day pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds. In addition, it calls for Mental Health First Aid training to help educators spot warning signs of mental illnesses and identify resources for support. The state has also substantially increased aid for the coming school year.

“Our message to lawmakers has been simple: Fund our students’ future,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “They delivered this year.

Now we need school districts to put it to good use to help students thrive.”

Districts were expected to work with staff, parents and community members to determine local needs and the best ways to use the federal relief funding. Local plans are due to be submitted to SED by Aug. 31.

In Baldwinsville, local union president Beth Chetney asked members to suggest ideas for providing enrichment, learning support and socialemotional learning. Over the summer, the Baldwinsville TA worked with district administration to create an application for proposals for beforeand after-school experiences that will benefit students.

The ideas go beyond what is in the BTA contract for extracurricular clubs.

Some examples include extended reading day; art therapy; robotics; intro to world language for elementary students; diversity, equity and inclusion; and walking/running clubs.

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