(The Center Square) – Grand Rapids Public Schools received more than $100 million in COVID relief funds to help 14,000 children recover from a pandemic learning loss.
Recreational spending has ranged from teacher counseling, field trips more than 600 miles away, tutoring programs and summer programs to replace some experiences lost during distance learning.
Of the last $49 million tranche of emergency relief for elementary and secondary schools, the most important parts are $18.7 million for operations and maintenance, $17.2 million for basic programs, $4.6 million US$ for central support services and US$3 million for student transportation.
Center Square received an initial ESSER III spending plan for 2021 through paperwork requests. Some spending has been changed following consultation with the Michigan Department of Education. For example, the district originally planned to spend $550,000 on Tammy Campbell, a national justice coach who runs an educational consulting firm called The Scholar First. However, this amount did not reach the final spending plan.
To date, the eighth-largest district statewide has spent $106,000 from ESSER II and III funds on services from The Scholar First and $168,000 on teaching coaching with other agencies, GRPS communications director Leon Hendrix told The Center Square in an E -Mail with.
“The return on investment has been immeasurable in inspiring our team to share common goals to improve the education of our scholars,” Hendrix wrote in an email.
GRPS wanted to spend $425,000 on technology that supports recruitment and online enrollment to return some of the 800 students it lost during the pandemic, the district said in its ESSER application.
GRPS spent $6.8 million on classroom technology, including video projectors, interactive whiteboards, and other educational resources for 635 classrooms. It spent $1.5 million on Chromebooks and iPads.
The highest operating and maintenance costs were $12.4 million for human resource managers at 40 schools for two years. It also funded $5.8 million for security personnel for two years.
Various projects include a First Robotics program, nearly $250,000 for SAT prep, and dual enrollment courses at community colleges and varsity camps such as NASA, STEAM, girls’ coding, and games.
GRPS paid for pre- and after-school student tutoring, summer art camps, after-school music lessons, art trips, music festivals, and trips to historically black colleges and universities. It also provided $515,000 to travel to Washington DC for 140 students and chaperones over a three-year period.
An elementary music program for teachers costs $15,000 per session.
GRPS spent $48,000 to train all elementary school music teachers in ORFF Music Vocational Learning, which “is elementary general music pedagogy that is very engaging for students. It includes playing hand percussion, vocals and ORFF instrument – mallet percussion.”
The district paid 20 employees $33,750 in stipends to attend the two-week ORFF training course. GRPS says research supports classes as “very successful” for poor students. It spent another $3,000 on additional training and consumables to match.
GRPS paid $450,000 for Orton Gillingham’s teacher training, a research-based diagnostic method for literacy. The funding will train 500 teachers at a cost of $900 per teacher.
GRPS planned to spend $340,000 on GoGuardian software to monitor students on online devices for two years.
The software filters Internet content and notifies employees “of online activity that indicates a risk of suicide, self-harm, or possible harm to others,” according to the website.