District 50 Board Members Prioritize Mental Health & Learning Loss For Federal Funds | New
How to support student mental health and reverse learning loss is a priority for the Greenwood County School District 50 Board of Directors.
The board hosted a workshop Monday night to share insight into the use of federal COVID relief money provided to school districts.
District receives $ 27,977,659 in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Assistance Fund (ESSER) III. The district is required to spend 20% of that money – or $ 5,595,532 – on lost learning.
The board met to discuss some of the priorities for spending this money and focused heavily on mental health and learning loss. The board frequently referred to a survey completed by students, teachers, parents and community members. The survey gathered 1,564 responses and 700 ideas submitted. About half of those comments could be attributed to one of the 15 spending categories that the district can use the money on, and the two main categories that interviewees drafted into the recommendations were related to mental health and loss of learning.
Board members discussed ideas for things that could be considered mental health related, such as a helpline, counselors, suicide helpline signage, and professional development focused on detecting mental health issues. signs that a student might need help.
“I think everyone in this room agrees, we have some really good people here in this neighborhood, but what we’re talking about, it almost depends on the human element to be insightful towards their surroundings, so that Maybe it’s professional development on it, ”said Clay Sprouse, board member.
“You know, I don’t think we all want all of the ESSER funds to go into the doldrums and in that kind of direction, but it’s definitely important,” Sprouse added.
Board member Hillary Craigo mentioned that the mental health aspect may not always be a case of tragedy, but children are “in the middle”.
“It’s the kid who is otherwise fairly healthy mentally,” Craigo said. “Their grades are dropping and they don’t know how to catch up because they have been virtual for so long or had to quarantine and they just don’t know how to ask for help and they are embarrassed and they are the children we have to watch too.
Shelby board member Dominick Reed suggested that playground equipment or sun shades might play a role in the mental awareness category, noting the positive effect of the outdoors on children.
Regarding the learning loss, board members discussed the use of funds for this purpose. Ways to support the upcoming intersession and the use of technology to provide Internet access to students, or access to missed lessons, for example.
Rodney Smith, the deputy district superintendent for affairs, said mental health and loss of learning were the two big lessons from Monday’s board meeting.
Then the district administrators will come together, incorporate the ideas of the council into the draft plan they have, which he says will be a budget for the money, “a detailed explanation of what we’re going to do.”
The district will then send that plan to the State Department by August 24.
Elements of the district’s academic recovery plan, which had to be approved by the state and have been approved, will also be incorporated into the plan.
Contact editor Lindsey Hodges at 864-943-5644 or on Twitter @LindseyNHodges.