Good News! We will be restoring some programs and services
Posted on 02/08/2021
Good news!  We will be restoring some programs and services!

Good news
We are planning to restore programs & services

We are pleased to let you know that we will be restoring some of the programs and services that were cut prior to the start of the school year. As you know, the district implemented many cuts, including more than 400 positions, due to a state advisory that up to 20% of state aid could be withheld due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the state. State aid payments to the district, beginning in August 2020, had a portion withheld, leaving the district little choice. This $28.5 million reduction in programs, services, and staffing was a necessary and responsible step, but it has been devastating to our school community, especially our students.

Up until this point, we have not restored programs and services, including increasing in-person options, because what the advisory warned did come to fruition. Funding was withheld from eleven of 23 aid payments. Further, subsequent advisories warned that reductions might continue, or perhaps be greater, if the state fiscal picture did not improve.

In January, the local media reported that state leaders said further aid cuts would not take place and that districts should expect to receive full aid payments. While the reports were promising, the district did not receive any official confirmation, or the necessary guidance and timeline regarding the restoration of funds, until last week.

On Monday, February 1, the district received confirmation that school aid will not be withheld moving forward and that prior aid payments will be made whole. This is great news and means the restoration of programs, services, and staff is underway.

Last week, the board of education approved resolutions to rehire staff for our Pre-K program, which was launched last week. The planning for the Pre-K program had already been underway as the district was notified in early January what portion of the Pre-K grant funds we would receive. Until then, the program was paused because the grant funding had not been authorized. We are pleased to finally be able to offer this important program to our youngest learners.

District leaders are now planning for the restoration of many student programs and services that have been paused since September with priority on increasing in-person opportunities, intervention and services and reducing the class size of virtual classes.

While we would like nothing more than to open the doors and welcome all students and staff back into the schools, this is not immediately feasible as COVID-19 safety requirements and protocols must be implemented. This includes many measures including social distancing.

The work to restore programming and staff is on an aggressive timeline. We are excited to begin a phase-in approach and soon see more students in our schools. We are aiming for March 1 or sooner. We will share more information soon. Because there is likely to be additional learning options available to you, please look for a survey later this week that will aid us in our planning. We know many families are still reluctant about in-person learning options, so an all-virtual option will still be available for the remainder of the school year.

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