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School Board Hears Stimulus Plan Update

Members of the Jamestown High School A Cappella gave board members a sneak peek of what to expect for their annual Vespers concert this year. The Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education met at Jamestown High School for their regular meeting. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

The Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education was treated to a sneak peek performance of Jamestown High School A Cappella Choir songs on Tuesday night.

The Madrigal Singers, a smaller performance group within the A Cappella Choir, performed in front of the board members, school staff and faculty and members of the public. High School Choral Director Lauren Sharf said the selection of songs was a preview of what can be expected at this year’s Vespers concert.

The Madrigals performed three songs: “Have You Heard The News,” “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” and “Masters in this Hall.”

In other news, the board heard a presentation on American Rescue Plan Act funding from School Business Official Brittnay Spry. Spry said a large part of the fund to combat the pandemic was set aside for schools and other educational institutions across the nation. Spry said the state received about $9 billion in ARPA funds, with 90% allocated for local education.

“Which means the state was only allowed to keep 10% for themselves for administrative fees, and the rest of them was passed directly on to public school districts,” she said.

“As a part of these funds in the New York State enacted budget, we are required as a district to create and post plans and update our community on how we anticipate and plan on spending these funds. Jamestown City School District has been allocated just over $21 million following the American Rescue Plan Act with 20% of that needs to be reserved to combat learning loss — 20% of $21 million is an estimated $4.2 million.”

The district is using the funds in three main ways: return to in-person instruction; general operations and technology; and addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There was a huge push to get kids back into the classroom which is where we focused most of our efforts over the summer,” Spry said. “The COVID-19 pandemic really introduced a lot of people to technology in the classroom and how it can work, and how we can use it in different ways. There was a large push towards technology upgrades.”

Spry said the district also focused on other areas that fall under these categories, including transportation, general academics, social-emotional health and others. She said the district surveyed the community and has also researched these areas, and they have discussed and planned initiatives.

“Our next steps include continuing to survey stakeholders for feedback on implementing and supporting those initiatives, monitor our spending, updating stakeholders and repeating that process all the way to September of 2024, which is when we have to spend our funds by.”

Superintendent Kevin Whitaker said the idea of the presentation was to get the word out.

“The process is to introduce the general concepts to the board so that they are aware,” Whitaker said. “The most important part is for parents and community (members) to look to the website and to other information steering them toward additional surveys to gather information about where they believe our priority should lie and spending that money for our kids.”

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