Almost 22 million dollars is coming to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District from the American Rescue Plan Act, also known as ARPA. Alaska Gateway School District will get 1.6 million, Delta-Greely 1.4 million and Denali Borough 216-thousand and Nenana 212-thousand.
The allotments are listed in the COVID-19 section of the state’s Department of Education and Early Development website.
Andy DeGraw, the Chief Operations Officer for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, says the money is planned to last through September, 2024.
“We want to be able to stretch those dollars as much as possible, because, at this point we have no idea the depth and magnitude of the needs were going to have in helping students address the challenges that are going to come out of Covid.”
He says $10,494,081 will go into the budget that starts July 1 this year. Another $8,125,827.16 will be used the following year.
“We’ll end up using some of CARES III, or the ARPA funds, next year. But the lion’s share will be utilized in FY 23, and possibly a little bit in FY 24.”
This federal COVID relief was signed into law on March 11. The ARP Act provides an additional $122 billion for puts money into the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or what’s called the ESSER Fund.
DeGraw says a specific amount for each school district is designated to repair “learning loss.”
“So we’re going to use a significant portion of these ESSER funds, to maintain lower class sizes.”
He says Fairbanks’ portion of the “Learning Loss” money is $4,363,796, and will be used to hire teachers back whose jobs were cut in the original budget planning this spring.
“Basically hiring more teachers than we would have otherwise, to keep those class sizes smaller, to address learning loss. We also planning on hiring teaching assistance at all elementary and middle schools. We are also expanding significantly our summer school programs.”
He says the extra teaching assistants and summer programs may be needed for more than then next year or two. He says the district is committed to having school be “as normal as possible.”