The Yuba City Unified School District board of trustees approved a plan Tuesday for how ESSER III funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will be spent throughout the district.
YCUSD plans on using the $28,335,194 in available funds to cover three main areas: strategies for continuous and safe in-person learning, addressing loss of instructional time and any remaining funds available will be used for implementation of social-emotional support centers and programs.
Under the ARPA, local educational agencies must spend the ESSER III funds to address students’ academic progress, strategies to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, mitigation strategies for COVID-19 and social, emotional and mental health needs.
This grant required community input, meaning there were provided surveys and question and answer sessions for staff, parents, students and the community at large, said Pamela Aurangzeb, assistant superintendent of educational services for YCUSD, during the board meeting.
Common themes from community input that influenced the spending decisions were water dispensers on campus, clean restrooms and frequent sanitation, anti-bullying instruction, field trips, additional transportation options, shady structures, improved ventilation, additional behavior and mental health support for students, summer learning and afterschool programs along with other themes concerning an improvement of salaries for teachers and para educators.
“Now, most of those are things we can provide so if you look at the acceptable and allowable options these are the plans the district is moving forward with based on stakeholder input and allowable uses for the fund,” said Aurangzeb during the meeting.
Most of the ESSER III funds will go to address continued strategies for safe in-person learning for an amount of $22,147,219.
“You’re going to look at developing strategies for implementing your public health protocols, maintenance repair, upgrading your air quality systems, any type of improvements that will reduce the risk of virus transmission, all of those fall into this category and would be an appropriate use for the continuous and safe in-person learning,” said Aurangzeb.
Under the ESSER III expenditure plan of continued strategies for in-person learning, $10 million will be allocated to provide moveable furniture that will allow classrooms to facilitate separation or collaboration when needed. Around $5 million will be used to improve the filtration systems in schools to provide clean air. To provide students with shade structures and accessibility to outdoor seating an allocated $4.5 million will be used. An estimated $1.9 million will help students in quarantine have better access to sound and livestream instruction. It will also provide students with additional power cords to be able to transport technology with ease.
The other $5 million in ESSER III funds will go toward addressing the impact of the loss of instructional time which will help provide tutoring services, additional funding for afterschool programs, a behavior management curriculum and new Chromebooks and hotspots for students.
The last $500,000 of any remaining funds will be used for social-emotional needs of students.
YCUSD board members also approved a contract with North Star Construction to resurface the Gray Avenue Middle School track for $614,450.
“The roots under the track are pushing up and cracking the cement surface underneath, which is the most expensive portion of that track and it’s damaging the rubber surface up above,” said Robert Shemwell, deputy superintendent of business services, during the board meeting. “That track has got to be close to 15-20 years old.”
The board members discussed whether taking out the trees was an option and put it on the next agenda as an item to discuss after Shemwell receives more information on the subject.