by Carol Elizabeth Owens
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has allocated $87 million in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRSSA) dollars to the Rochester City School District (RCSD). The District’s announcement came on Nov. 15, 2021, and was met with expressions of gratitude by RCSD’s Superintendent.
“I want to thank Dr. Shelley Jallow, our [NY] State Monitor for her partnership in working with our team for the past several months to finalize and approve this grant application,” said Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small, Ed.D. “I am also grateful to the State Education Department for recognizing and addressing the fiscal needs of our District.”
According to information provided by the District, RCSD applied for $87 million CRSSA funds to support RCSD’s initiatives based on student need, stakeholder feedback, and the desire to improve existing planning processes, such as student health and safety, reopening, COVID response, a resource planning upgrade, and high-quality teaching and learning for all.
The District says it shall use the $87 million CRSSA money to provide support for the following areas of concern: social-emotional, mental health, safety and academic needs.
“This meaningful investment will go a long way in addressing social emotional, staffing, and health and safety needs of Rochester’s scholars and giving them a fair, sound, and equitable education,” said Myers-Small.
RCSD states it will do the following to tackle those issues: employ new personnel (such as COVID response professionals); purchase personal protection equipment (PPE); arrange overtime pay for custodial staff to conduct deep cleanings of physical spaces; expand second step social-emotional curriculum provision (curricular materials and related professional development); add 12 community school site coordinators; expand access to enrichment courses by converting 28 part-time teaching positions to full-time; have 75 full-time [school] building substitutes to ensure a dedicated, consistent substitute at specific school buildings; and hourly pay for teachers to support additional instructional time virtually for students in quarantine.
In addition to the $87 million CRSSA money already allocated to RCSD, the District has a pending application for $197 million dollars of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds which is under review by NYSED.
The CRRSA Act was signed into law in December, 2020 to provide $54.3 billion in relief funds to elementary and secondary schools across the nation.