NEW BRITAIN – New Britain schools will receive $22.9 million in federal grants to help with covid-19 specific recovery efforts for students.
The grant fund is coming from the federal government’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds and the district is working on completing a more detailed grant application to include student needs assessment and a targeted intervention plan that spans the summers of 2021, 2022 and 2023, along with school years 2021-22 and 2022-23.
According to Charlene Russell-Tucker from the Office of Deputy Commissioner with the state Department of Education, the state will be receiving an additional $492,426,458 in the schools’ covid-19 relief funds, which brings the state’s total funding to $603,494,517.
Access to the grant opportunities must be focused on students whose progress decreased, students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, disengaged youth, or those with barriers to remote learning, according to the commissioner.
“The task of educational recovery and learning acceleration will take a concerted effort on the part of all adults who interface with our students including parents, educators, administrators and community-based organizations,” Russell-Tucker said. “Together we must remain committed to targeting, measuring and erasing the education disparities among our students that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic.”
The district will be working on an application that contains a plan based on students’ needs. Every district-created recovery plan must target improving outcomes for all students by strengthening core instruction at all levels of the organization; improving outcomes for all high need populations inclusive of all subgroups by providing supplemental instruction and by improving specialized instruction for English Learners and students with disabilities at all levels; increasing out of school experiences; increasing resources through partnerships with various mental health agencies; and provide an instructional system with accountability.
In a letter sent out to district families, Superintendent Nancy Sarra said the district will be networking with other districts to leverage best practices and brainstorm what is best for New Britain students. The state will also provide technical support, including state liaisons to work with superintendents.
Any staff positions relating to the grant will be posted this spring, providing current staff the opportunity to apply, Sarra said, stating the comprehensive needs assessment includes collecting data as well as analyzing academic and social-emotional data to ensure that the district is meeting the needs of its students and families. When the survey is complete, the district will forward it to all stakeholders with the goal of hearing and being responsive to all voices in the community.
“A comprehensive, strategic plan that addresses the post-covid needs of our students is a positive first step towards recovery and takes time to develop,” Sarra said. “While we have worked incredibly hard throughout this past year, we want to ensure that our staff has the tools and resources they need to aid in student success post-pandemic.”