JPS To Focus On Mental Health, Learning Loss Recovery

P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

Due to hardships of the pandemic, students are in need of mental health and learning loss recovery support, said Jamestown Superintendent Kevin Whitaker.

In a $93.8 million budget passed Tuesday by the Jamestown Public Schools Board, Whitaker said the district is looking to emphasize student well-being and assistance.

“We are focused on learning loss recovery,” he said. “There’s been a tremendous amount of loss over the course of the past two years, and we’re hoping to address that with AIS teachers and reading teachers and some additional teachers on staff. But the second big item would be mental health support. We are committed to addressing the mental health stresses, anxieties and other mental health issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. We’re helping there with some additional care professionals, social workers and counselors. And we’re going to do all of this with a 0% tax increase.”

Whitaker said these items had been discussed earlier in the year but had been fleshed out and modified throughout the budget process. The budget calls for 40 additional staff members to be added to the district’s payroll.

“It’s 45 total people, but not really because five of them are teachers on special assignment, so it’s the same employee, just in a different role,” he said.

Whitaker said one thing that has been incredibly helpful in the budget this year is the addition of $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“We have a very real, very right now need for our students,” Whitaker said. “When it comes to academics and mental health, we have to address it. This pandemic has brought upon our kids a kind of struggle and darkness that no one really anticipated. Spending time at home as was required was very difficult for many, many students, and it has had a long-term effect. We have to be able to address those in order to move forward.”

The budget passed Tuesday, which does not include a tax levy increase, will go to a vote Tuesday, May 17.


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