Knox County Public Schools have utilized ESSER funding, including ARP ESSER funds, to carry out the vision and recommendations of our stakeholders. Below you will find our original vision, needs assessment, initial plans, and lists of items/services that have been purchased to date as part of the federal funding.
Knox County Public Schools leadership worked to ensure that our ARP funding would identify needed changes to infrastructure to reduce further loss of instructional time; to put supports in place for the immediate need for interventions and enrichment for students returning to school this fall; and to look ahead at the future for relevant learning opportunities to prepare them for the future.
KCPS conducted a district-wide survey in an attempt to solicit real feedback from teachers and other stakeholders on what will make a difference in their classroom, or for their child(ren) as a parent, as related to loss of instruction. We also took into consideration the loss of income for many families that were furloughed or had less opportunities for work if self-employeed.
The needs assessment was conducted electronically and advertised during social media and print media for participation.
INFRASTRUCTURE GOALS AND PPE
Research shows that the installation of air quality purification equipment at each school will both provide cleaner air during times of widespread virus and throughout the year with common influenza and other airborne viruses. KCPS will be installing these units at all schools and providing HVAC upgrades where needed to ensure air flow and heating and cooling for comfortable learning environments.
Additional purchases, such as school buses and transportation vehicles, will assist the district in increased social distancing and also provide additional transportation methods for any after school learning loss tutoring.
Funds will also be used to purchase on-going PPE including cleaning chemicals that are effective at reducing novel coronavirus and variants.
Our expenditures have included:
- Vapor Sensors installed in schools to assist staff in identifying the use of vaping to help offset the increased risk of COVID 19 among teenagers.
- Over $106,000 in additional cleaning supplies to clean and prevent the spread of viruses.
- Upgraded freezers in our school to accommodate food that was needed as part of our meal pickup program during closure.
- Additional buses, including enhanced security modifications for existing, to enforce social distancing to reduce the number of students on buses that we are transporting. New camera systems will allow for contact tracing as needed.
- Roof and HVAC Replacements throughout the district with Ionization and UV filtration, controls and sealings including 100% HVAC Heat Pump Replacement, Make-up Air System Replacement with Ionization and UV Filtration, controls and replacement ceilings.
LOSS OF LEARNING
Our extended school services will be offered twice a week after the dismissal of school. In the summer of 2022, we will be providing three weeks of summer boost in the month of July. These two opportunities, outside of the school day, will help both students who became behind due to COVID-19 closure and those students who need additional support to catch up faster on mastering standards.
Additional interventionists will be hired using the funding so that each elementary school has a staff member dedicated to providing direct services to students throughout the day.
A full time substitute teacher will be provided at the middle and high school levels to allow our teachers time to attend professional learning opportunities on learning loss, to meet with curriculum coaches and school leadership to review student data and develop plans for each.
Simple Solutions and Odysseyware are among the instructional purchases that will assist the district with providing intervention and enrichment at elementary through high school levels. Odysseyware will be used as the virtual platform for those on homebound or for families that seek a virtual learning solution for their child(ren).
Our expenditures have included:
- Stipends for full time certified employees to address the amount of learning lost. Staff are expected to provide services to students outside of the regular school day virtually to address student and parent needs to minimize learning loss and continue the continuity of academic learning services and to prevent, prepare for, or respond to COVID-19. Full time classified staff to provide services to maintain continuity and to continue employment of existing staff. Classified personnel provided a variety of services to schools to be able to address learning loss and to prevent, prepare for, or respond to COVID-19.
- Substitute funds used to pay substitute staff for full time employees who are out of work due to COVID-19.
- Full time substitute teachers provide a continuation of learning within the school environment. Our district is experiencing a shortage of substitute teachers. Full time subs are in buildings every day, they know routines and procedures that minimize the loss of instruction for students.
- Retention of 20+ teachers. Based on SBDM allocations, the district would not be able to provide smaller class sizes and more individualized instruction for students to address the learning loss that occurred during the pandemic. These funds allow for the retention of staff to address these needs.
- Odysseyware was necessary to provide a continuation of learning at home and to address credit recovery for students. Odysseyware is research based online program that provides curriculum to address standards that are parallel to what students in schools are learning. With this continuation of learning and the curriculum addressing standards that students would be getting in person the learning loss of students was minimized.
- Part time instructional interventionist positions enable schools to address learning loss in reading and math only within small group settings.
- Edulastic provides thousands of quality questions directly tied to Kentucky Standards at various levels of difficulty. The need for higher order questioning and increased rigor in teaching is apparent in our Transcend Study data where the majority of students who perform well on lower level questions, then perform poorly on higher level questions of the same standard in the same testing session.
- Simple Solutions is daily practice in Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies that combines retrieval, spacing, and interleaving-three research-based strategies that ensure long-term retention of content. This practice increases the probability of students retaining knowledge and skills as well as serves as a platform for continual review that is crucial to address learning loss.
- Summer school offerings including salary for instructors, bus drivers, and food service personnel.
- Reading Wonders, a curriculum with online teacher and student access, allows teachers to pinpoint specific skills students need to improve learning and assign those skills to students on an individual basis. Not every assignment is the same for every student, but they are all working toward mastery of the same standards. Online access also allows teachers to select on level, below level, or above level passages and assignments that cover the same themes at the appropriate readability level for individual student independent work.This makes differentiation much easier to achieve when addressing learning loss and extending skills as needed.
Funding has been allotted for upgrades to advanced high school level calculators, significant improvements to our CTE programs including the locally operated career and technical center, and additional upgrades to teacher workstations to include multiple monitors, document cameras, and other tools that were found to be needed for remote learning.
Our expenditures have included:
- Trace3/Wireless project upgraded our network system to ensure that we had the capacity for students to learn electronically while being socially distanced on the Chromebooks our district provides to them.
- Follett Destiny software enables our students to access digital libraries virtually from anywhere.
- Purchases of additional desks, lockers, and chairs for each school classroom is for supplemental seating and desks to social distance students and reduce the close contact among them to reduce the opportunities for the spread of the virus.
- Labster, virtual science lab simulation, to provide online and in-class experiences to address learning loss and when learning is online.
Digital Learning Coaches and STLP (Student Technology Leadership Program) advisors are being funded to ensure that all members of the school community have access to technology support whether in the classroom or if learning becomes remote. Students will learn how to be a help desk for all stakeholders. Digital Learning Coaches will provide intentional training based on teacher need including 1:1 support or school-wide trainings.
Actual expenditures have included:
- DLCs (Digital Learning Coaches) will be in charge of the train the trainer coach where they will receive guidance from the district on how to use online learning management systems. These people will be in charge of providing training to teachers in their building on utilization of the learning management systems. They will also provide best practice and instructional support for online delivery of instruction to help teachers address learning loss due to COVID-19.
- The focus of an STLP (student technology leadership program) coach is to assist teachers and students to integrate technology projects into classroom curriculum focusing on Kentucky Academic Standards for technology. The coaches will promote academic achievement by developing activities to enhance the academic, social, emotional, and leadership growth of the student. Coaches will promote multi-age collaboration by creating learning partnerships between students of different grades and technology skills. These activities will be designed to benefit their schools and communities as they strive to recover from the loss of learning, social and emotional learning opportunities, and community collaboration that occurred during the Covid pandemic.
DIRECT FAMILY SUPPORT
The school district will be purchasing the necessary school supplies for each grade level, content level, at each school. Students and their families will not be required to purchase supplies for the 2021-2022 school year. Teachers will receive funding for any specialty items (ex: art class) that they might need that are consumable throughout the year.
Actual expenditures have included:
- The district purchased school supplies for students in order to relieve the burden to our families for needing to purchase back to school supplies for FY22-25. Students have their own supplies and they would keep their own supplies and would not have to share them with other students so this would help us to prevent spreading of the virus and at the same time provide instructional supplies to students to address learning loss.
PLAN REVIEW AND REVISION
A district stakeholder team reviewed the plan to ensure that funding met requirements and were directly related to the feedback received through the needs assessment. This group will continue to meet to review and revise, as necessary, the plan due to changes in need or changes in prices.
KCPS welcomes feedback as the school year begins on the implementation and success of strategies and goals of ARP ESSER funds. Suggestions and other comments may be addressed to our Director of Federal Programs, Stacy Imel, at firstname.lastname@example.org