Rockingham County Public Schools has received two rounds of federal stimulus money to help with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic through the CARES Act and the American Recovery Plan. The system is expecting to receive a third round of funding for the largest amount yet — $10.8 million.
The first round of funding, $1.4 million, was used on some elementary early start programs for the county’s youngest students with behavioral issues, said Superintendent Oskar Scheikl. It was also used for software and online learning and technology tools.
The second round of funding was in the amount of $4.8 million. This funding was used for things directly related to the pandemic, Sheikl said. For example $700,000 was used to upgrade schools’ ventilation systems and $600,000 was used on technology and positions related to remediation. About $1 million was used to take certain duties off of teachers’ plates so that they could spend more time during the day training and planning.
The school division was also able to hire four behavioral specialists.
“I want to be clear though, we have to be careful using these one-time funds on creating new positions,” Scheikl said. Even on raises, because the money will eventually be gone and the school division will have to resume responsibility for the added expenses.
The school division is in the process of submitting an application for a third round of federal relief funds. Although still in the process of applying and being guided on what the money can be used for, RCPS can expect $10.8 million.
Scheikl is still considering and making plans for how the money will be used and doesn’t want to be too specific until details are nailed down. However, he said some of the money will be spent on summer programming for next summer and the summer after that. There will also be quite a lot spent on instruction, but in what form that takes is still to be determined.
Of the $10.8 million, $2 million must be spent on expenditures directly related to learning loss, Scheikl said.
More information will be made available about these funds and how they will be spent in the coming months.