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The Richmond School District had a basic wish list ready just in case any American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Stimulus Funds trickled down to them. Some money came; less than expected, and none for construction. Still, the district is pleased with what they got.
“We won’t get any construction funds, but we can use the money for one-time expenditures,” said Superintendent Jim Robins.
Students in technology will benefit from an additional $7,000 in educational support.
The Special Education Department received $371,000, but, as Director Julie Harris stressed to the board, “There’s lots of strings attached.”
“The primary target is the special education student, and I must prove they benefited from any of the expenditures. The money can go to regular education to help special educaton, as long as the special ed student is the target and we can prove benefit to the special ed student,” said Harris. “They (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) want us to call them and ask, ‘Can we do this?’ I have to prove everything.”
Harris already knows what she would like to use at least some of the funds for.
“We hired one teacher for next year with stimulus money, and paraprofessionals may be hired to help the children,” she said. “I want something where kids who struggle with writing for whatever reason can speak into assisted technology to help them.”
Examples of ARRA-approved expenditures could include such things as software (speech-to-text, text-to-speech, or Board/poster maker), assistive technology devices (Braille writer, lifts, stand magnifiers, adaptive keyboards, etc.), assessment and curriculum materials, equipment, hiring of extra aides in classrooms, supplies and professional development, to name a few.
The Title 1 program received $130,000 to use much the same way as the Special Education Dept.
“We’re doing things a little different at Dear next year,” said Dear Principal Carole Garth. “We’re stepping up interventions for students who are struggling, and we’re adding more students to our preschool program.”
Garth said she’s trying to get permission to make the Dear Title 1 program a district-wide program. That would mean they could fund reading implementation and have more ways to spend the money to help more students.
The list she received of approved types of expenditures included, among other things, improving student reading skills, prevention/intervention programs for neglected, delinquent or at-risk students and school drop out prevention.