At a special meeting on Tuesday, the Jamestown Public School Board made preliminary allocations of approximately $3.2 million in federal stimulus funds.
The funds can be used over the next two school years for technology, building repairs, professional development, and other recurring expenses.
Feds Require States To Spend Stimulus Funds
Superintendent Bob Toso stated that the district is limiting the amount of money it spends on hiring new positions because Jamestown may not have the funds to pay for these positions once the stimulus funds run out.
The administration was able to solicit bids for the various items after the board voted to accept the preliminary allocations. After receiving the bids, the board can decide which bids, if any, to accept.
The federal government mandates that districts spend the funds by September 11, about $1.1 million of the $3.2 million in stimulus funding would be allocated to technology costs, including $103,000 for classroom printers, Smart Boards, and their accessories.
Mike Armitage, the district’s technology coordinator, stated that the district proposed spending approximately $185,000 on a new telephone system that would reduce the number of phone lines in the district, allow staff to transfer calls to different buildings, and could electronically notify parents of upcoming events or weather-related announcements.
Additionally, the district proposed spending $125,000 on new instruments for the music program.
In addition, the district allocated approximately $568,000 of the $3.2 million for Title I expenses such as training, conferences, and supplies, according to Washington Elementary School principal Dave Saxberg. Title I is a federal program for low-income, learning-challenged students.
Saxberg stated that the majority of the $568,000 would be allocated to Title I elementary schools as opposed to middle schools. The objective is to assist Title I students at the elementary level so that they require less assistance as they get older.
Middle schools included in Title I are Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington, Louie L’Amour, and Jamestown. According to Rhoda Young, director of the James River Special Education Cooperative, there is an allocation of approximately $669,000.
A portion of the funds would also be allocated to professional positions. Toso stated that some new positions are required for professional development and improving student achievement.
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Funding For Charter Schools
Meanwhile, New charter schools would be eligible for an initial grant of up to $300,000, with an option to receive an additional $100,000. These funds would be used to cover startup expenses and costs associated with the renovation and remodeling of existing buildings.
Sen. Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell), minority leader in the Senate, is concerned about the funding of traditional schools. His primary concern in committee was the state’s alleged inability to recover funds for schools that never open.
Other committee members disagreed, stating that other elements of state law would provide waste protection. Non-resident management firms are not eligible for the grants.
The legislation will now be considered by the Senate Finance Committee prior to consideration by the full Senate.
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