CLAREMONT – The Claremont School District hopes to launch a new curriculum next year to address the learning deficiencies caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, although school board members say they have constant questions about the logistics of the offer.
On Wednesday, Claremont school officials proposed setting up two retraining programs for the next school year, one at Claremont High School and the other at Stevens High School, to offset the loss of student education during the transition to online learning between 2020 and 2022 emerged.
The offer includes a salary of up to $ 570,000 for the staff of these centers. Approximately $ 240,000 will be funded in the approved operating budget for 2022-2023. Up to $ 330,000 will be funded by a one-time federal grant for primary and secondary schools (ESSER).
Each school ideally has three learning centers that serve students at different levels, with each center having a “student dean,” a teacher with the role of principal and teaching assistant. Each center will have one school counselor and one special education teacher.
Claremont officials noted that Claremont, like other districts across the country, has seen a worrying percentage of students who are scientifically and socio-emotionally vulnerable to the pandemic.
Claremont High School principal Frank Romeo noted that without effective intervention to get these students back on track, they run the risk of falling behind again or giving up altogether.
“A [current] an eighth grader hasn’t received a full year of school since he or she was in sixth grade, ”Romeo said.“ So when you compare an eighth grader to an eighth grader, you see what the differences are and why socio-emotional and academic struggles. “
These centers, which Romeo encountered as a teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, act like an academic “trinity” where the team identifies each student’s needs and develops a plan to get that student back.
“It could mean that [a student] needs more individual time, more attention or smaller settings, ”Romeo said.“ So these training centers will really help students in need, and I think we will catch these students before they lose. “
According to Romeo, these centers are designed for short-term stations to help students build tools to succeed in their classrooms, although some students have to stay longer than others.
Another goal, said Supervisor Michael Tempesta, is to reduce the current pressure on classroom teachers by adding additional staff to reduce student enrollment and help students who are struggling academically or behaviorally.
Board members, although accepting the purpose of the initiative, said they still have a lot to say about the proposal, especially financial sustainability.
Next school year, the district will receive more than $ 6.4 million in ESSER funding to address the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic on public schools. According to Tempesta, “the bulk” of this money, about $ 3.5 million, will go to staffing and incentive compensation, which includes attracting some helpers for training centers.
Board Vice President Heather Whitney expressed concern about the use of one-time funds to fund new programs, which would need new sources of funding over the next two years when the money is spent.
“Before we can do that, we need to have a plan in place to make it sustainable,” Whitney said. “Families and students will have an emotional impact on the program and expect it to be there.”
Tempesta said she believes the district will have the funds in the future to be allocated through demolition, in which existing vacancies will be removed after the active employee retires.
Tempesta added that other staff or funds could be released through the district’s redevelopment plan, which aims to reorganize class schedules at Stevens and Claremont High School.
School officials also noted that the centers could be redesigned in the future if students’ needs were reduced, which authorities said was the goal.
But board members said they still want to see more planning on paper, instead of dwelling on speculations about the availability of money.
“I don’t think we should just move forward with hope,” said Board member Whitney Skillen. “We’re not saying we shouldn’t be optimistic that things will go the way we want them to, but I’ve heard a lot of speculation. [Which] that’s fine, [but] I want to see the documents with all the thinking behind it. “
Board member Stephen Horsky said he also wants to see some criteria for measuring the effectiveness of the program, such as targeting one percent of students who can meet class-level expectations.
“I’m just curious to see what modeling has shown to recoup this investment,” Horsky said.
Other school officials have reiterated that the training center, like the ESSER funding behind it, is specifically designed to provide emergency relief on a regular basis.
“They don’t have to fight for two years if it works the way it should,” board member Joshua Lambert said. “And having these many opportunities for additional intervention helps us a lot.”
“ESSER’s federal funding is specifically for training losses,” said Assistant Mary Ellen Janeiro. “So it’s not meant to be durable. It’s just a nice gift of money to tell you how to wear them.” [learning] gaps. “