GREEN RIVER — Sweetwater County School District (SCSD) No. 2 will be prioritizing students and staff’s emotional and social wellness and loss of learning in its plan for American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds.
The school district is receiving the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) 3.0 funds under the ARP Act of 2021, which it will use for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years. SCSD No. 2 Business Manager Chris Dean said the ESSER 2.0 funds will take the district through the current school year.
Under the ARP Act, Wyoming has received $300 million for K-12 funding to be spent before December 10, 2024. SCSD No. 2 will be using $5.6 million of the state’s ARP funds.
“I think this is a pretty good plan, I’m looking forward to seeing how it works,” SCSD No. 2 Trustee Steve Core said.
The SCSD No. 2 Task Force submitted input during two in-person meetings in 2021 and in an online survey in which participants reflected a “resounding desire to support students, staff and administration both instructionally and socio-emotionally,” according to the implementation plan.
Therefore, the planned initiatives prioritize building internal instructional capacity within the district, investing in professional development to build staff capacity and uplift current staff, building long-lasting community partnerships, providing interventions that address student academic or social or emotional needs, and investment in one-time infrastructure upgrades that support healthy, safe buildings.
It is mandatory for the district to use 20 percent of the funds received to address the academic impact of learning loss through the implementation of evidence based interventions such as summer learning or enrichment, extended days, or comprehensive after school or extended school year programs. Dean said well over 20 percent of the funds are being dedicated to learning loss.
Other priorities covered under these funds include additional staff, counselors for both students and staff, additional classroom teachers, interventionists, continued use of school nurses, additional aides, and reduction of classroom sizes.
The plan states that the COVID-19 pandemic added additional stress and responsibilities on teachers and staff and required teachers to work a greater number of hours. Due to this, retention of teachers and support staff is being prioritized with the ARP funds.
“Many school districts are unable to fill vacancies as retirements and resignations occur. Sweetwater School District 2 will offer all employees a retention stipend to address workforce leaving the organization, and address increased responsibility,” the plan states.
Over $400,000 of the funds will also be dedicated to mitigating the pandemic with a continuation of cleaning and disinfecting measures, signage for social distancing and proper hygiene, and other supplies and equipment that prioritizes student and staff health.
Additionally, Dean said $400,000 will be dedicated to a district security plan. The plan includes modifying, changing, replacing, and adding to existing school hardware to provide a method to secure the buildings. This project’s scope is the Green River High School and Lincoln Middle School buildings.
To view the district’s full ARP ESSER 3.0 implementation plan, see the pdf file below.