Federal Funds Help Make Improvements

Federal Funds Help SJSD Make Improvements that Benefit Students & Staff
Posted on 03/14/2022
Federal Funds GraphicOne year ago, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was signed into law. The $1.9 trillion package included $122 billion in funding for elementary and secondary schools across the country as part of emergency relief to address the COVID-19 pandemic, help reopen schools, and sustain school operations. 

The St. Joseph School District has been the recipient of over $39 million over the past year, which has aided the district in keeping our students and staff safe. 

The funding has provided vital resources necessary to support students during this unprecedented time,” said SJSD Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl. “Our students needed additional technology – laptops, iPads and hotspots, our teachers received additional professional development training and schools were provided with additional cleaning equipment and supplies. Funds also allowed the district to replace all water fountains districtwide with new, filtered, water bottle filling stations.  We have put this funding to good use, and it has benefited our students, staff and schools.”

One of the more visible public signs of the funding received is the Carden Park Clinic, which opened in the fall of 2020 serving students, staff, and families. Among the offerings: COVID, influenza and strep testing, sick and well visits, and sports physicals. 

The investment has also created a healthier learning environment at Benton, Central, and Lafayette high schools and Hillyard Technical Center. Each facility received upgrades to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in support of increasing outside air into the space to help mitigate the spread of airborne pathogens. Through the project, the District also improved a new building automation system that allows these facilities to be run more efficiently and introduced air conditioning into spaces that were previously without.

The latest round of funding, which amounts to nearly $26 million, will help students by providing additional educational supports such as academic and extra-curricular opportunities outside of the regular school day to students. The program, known as Closing the Gap, will also enhance the educational experience of students by recognizing and rewarding productive, effective educators. 

In addition to the Closing the Gap Program, by the fall of 2022 the district will use federal funds to employ attendance interventionists and additional social workers to support our students and schools. 

“The measures we have taken to keep students and staff safe while providing the best education opportunities has been critical and required significant financial support,” said Dr. Gabe Edgar, Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations. “We have leveraged this funding with our current budget to provide help to the areas where it’s needed most. The public can be assured that we have demonstrated good stewardship of the local, state and federal funds we have received and have spent the money wisely.” 

These federal funds have made a difference now, and will in the future, as we continue to look at how we are meeting the academic and social emotional needs of our students. 

To view other district projects funded through the American Rescue Plan, go to https://sjsd.info/COVIDaid

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