At the Nov. 11 board of education meeting, Albany County School District No. 1 (ACSD No. 1) offered an update on the uses and distribution of the money it has received from the CARES Act.
The CARES Act resources are spread out over four main funds:
• Coronavirus Relief Fund
• Elementary & Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund
• Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund
• Nutrition Funding
Allocations for the Coronavirus Relief Fund are used to prevent learning loss and reduce virus exposure. A large part of preventing learning loss is holding summer school, while computer-based virtual instruction (CBVI) helps prevent virus exposure. These funds have been used for salary, benefits, and materials for 2020 summer school staffs, salary and benefits for three educators for the CBVI program for the 2020-21 year, and salary and benefits for 30 educators to teach an additional CBVI class period.
The school district also purchased masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes for classrooms and other areas, additional fogging, social distancing signage, plexiglass barriers, and similar items.
These distributions make up $1,196,819.65 from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. There is $39,909.83 remaining in this allotment.
The GEER fund is split into three sections:
• GEER Fund for Educational Technology
• GEER Fund for Early Childhood Transitions
• GEER Fund for Remote Learning Needs and Transition Services
The District has used the Educational Technology fund to purchase Chromebooks, computers, and related devices. Now, all schools in the district have one device for each student. ACSD No. 1 has also purchased hardware such as cameras, microphones, document cameras, chargers, software, classroom audio devices, and other items that support remote learning.
Out of the Fund for Early Childhood Transitions, ACSD No. 1 has compensated for participants that attend evening meetings with Zoom participants, compensated for an early childhood facilitator that plans, prepares, facilitates, and reports on the grant, and registered participants for a virtual conference. The District used funds from the Remote Learning Needs and Transition Services section to purchase licenses to applications for educators to use for instruction in remote learning environments.
Overall, ACSD No. 1 has been awarded $2,090,630 in GEER funds.
The Nutrition Funding has been used to provide every student with free meals during the school year. These funds also provide students meals on weekends and days off from school. The Backpack Program has been suspended for this year due to this particular funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Backpack Program is expected to return next school year.