At a community outreach meeting Tuesday night, the Lamoille North Supervisory Union school district presented its plan to allocate approximately $5.09 million received through the American Rescue Plan Act specifically earmarked for elementary and secondary school emergency relief.
A large majority of the grant powering the school’s recovery plan — $4,078,617 or approximately 80 percent of the total grant — will be spent on human resources, bringing on new roles to the district that include an engagement specialist, a home to school coordinator/ liaison, a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator, math and literacy interventionists, guidance counselors and additional facility and IT staff.
Another 15 percent — $780,000 — will be spent on summer programming and the staffing, supplies and field trip costs it will entail.
The plan, according to superintendent Catherine Gallagher, was the result of numerous meetings with community members and the input they provided. The money will be spent over the next three years.
“At the end of last year, the agency of education tasked us with looking at how our students were doing, how our families were doing, and how our staff was doing, and they broke out their requests in three domains. One was the social, emotional, wellness domain. One was the student engagement domain. And one was the academic recovery, which is what we’re calling multi-tiered systems of support, which has to do with universal best practices for instruction for all,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher also said the district consulted teams from each school in the district. These teams included parents and staff from a variety of backgrounds. According to Gallagher, Lamoille North was one of the first districts in the state to have their plan for funding allocation approved by the state education agency.
Deborah Clark, the district’s business manager, led the presentation.
The district plans to re-establish a taskforce to develop a three-year plan. The strategy the district plans to use is expected to address the various behavioral and academic requirements of students whose needs differ, a data-driven way of addressing the needs of the individual student along with the whole student body.
The taskforce committee’s priorities will include creating recommendations for literacy and math coaching, making use of data to inform teachers, and looking at possible needs for next summer’s program and making school schedules as effective as possible.
Over a third of the federal grant money, or approximately $2 million, will go toward implementing these multi-tiered systems of support, with a majority for the extra staff needed to implement the strategy.
Along with this approach to more effectively address student’s academic and behavioral needs, the district plans to invest in emotionally supporting students as well. This will take the form of a social, emotional, learning and wellness system to provide guidance, support, and interventions for students in each school.
The district also plans to improve school culture and foster a healthy climate by developing a three-year plan for trauma-informed practices, facilitated by Mark Scott of the Lamoille Restorative Center and Maria Davies, the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator.
“Under restorative trauma-informed practices, which is sort of a subset of social and emotional learning, the recovery plan’s goals are to help students better deal with conflict and improve school culture,” Clark said.
A little less than a third, or $1.4 million, will be spent on this system, all of it directed to funding the staff required to implement them.
A small part of the grant, or $369,000, will be used to meet the basic needs of families and strengthening home-to-school connections and providing substance-use education, prevention and counseling to students and families.
Healthy Lamoille Valley, a group advocating against youth substance abuse, preceded the budget presentation with its own walk through of the various programs they offer, particularly those geared at middle school students.
Gallagher noted that the plan was dynamic and could change to address the shifting needs of the students and community. According to her, the district’s ongoing approach to the next few years of its development is reliant on community partnership.
“I have had more parent conversations in person and on the phone this year than I have in the past three years,” she said. “So that is an opportunity for huge engagement, and it’s clear that families really care about what’s happening in their schools and want to really partner with us.”