augusta free press news

Waynesboro Public Schools details use of federal funds addressing pandemic

covid-19 school
(© alexandra – stock.adobe.com)

Waynesboro Public Schools is earmarking federal pandemic relief funds to safely keep schools open and put supports in place to meet students’ academic, social, emotional and mental health needs.

“This money has made it possible to enhance services for students and staff. It allows us the opportunity to support them as they navigate these new and challenging times. There is a lot we would not be able to do if we did not have these funds,” said Vonda Hutchinson, executive director of finance for Waynesboro Public Schools.

The school system used the first batch of federal dollars from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to finance the revamping of school cleaning protocols, which included purchasing numerous disinfectant sprayers, wipes, hand sanitizer dispensers and other cleaning necessities to help thoroughly sanitize school buildings.

These funds also helped support the transition to all virtual learning. Additional laptops and hotspots were purchased as well as paper to help support the increased need of sending packets home during the school closure.

CARES funds then allowed the division the opportunity to increase interpreting services for families, install new chillers at Westwood Hills and William Perry Elementary Schools and fulfill any financial obligations that came with providing vaccine clinics for students and staff.

With aid continuing to trickle down from the federal government, Waynesboro Public Schools also received CARES II/Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II funding, which helped the division hire additional nurses and teachers, as well as provide childcare for teachers when schools first began to reopen.

Another pool of money called the Governor Emergency Education Relief fund was also received and used to continue to help cover the increase in cleaning and technology cost needs that are now needed due to the pandemic. These funds also addressed facility improvements and instructional delivery support.

Money was also received from the American Recovery Plan to help support homeless, special education and Pre-K students and programming.

The most recent aid received by the school division is 7.3 million dollars from ESSER III. Within these funds, at least 20 percent of the monies must be used toward learning loss. The remaining 80 percent will be used toward school facility repairs and improvements to help reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Waynesboro Public Schools plans to use these funds to extend its summer school opportunities for students and hire additional staff.

In regard to facility and repair, the division plans to upgrade the HVAC systems at Wenonah and Berkeley Glenn Elementary.

“In our application for the Berkeley Glenn renovations it was stated that, ‘Berkeley Glenn has not had any renovations to the building since it was built in 1968. The HVAC system is failing. With this improvement, exterior doors and windows will be replaced, there will be a new ceiling throughout as well as lights.’ It is going to be a pretty decent overhaul,” said Hutchinson.

At the very start of the pandemic Waynesboro Public Schools found itself needing to purchase items that the division never had to budget for such as face masks, thermometers and paper products to send school meals home. In addition, the division was faced with the task of still paying employees like bus drivers and aides who were unable to work due to the closure of school.

Aslocalities began to receive their allotment of pandemic aid, the City of Waynesboro reimbursed the school division for those early unanticipated expenses. WPS is grateful to the City of Waynesboro and their continued support.

For a full copy of Waynesboro Public Schools ESSER plan visit: waynesboro.k12.va.us/administration/finance_department


augusta free press
augusta free press