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KISD officials preparing for ESSER II grant funds

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Members of the Kennard ISD board of trustees, Superintendent Belinda Lindsey and Business Manager Cari Parrish met Thursday, June 17, and addressed grant application items and other matters in preparation for upcoming school years. Alton Porter Photo.Members of the Kennard ISD board of trustees, Superintendent Belinda Lindsey and Business Manager Cari Parrish met Thursday, June 17, and addressed grant application items and other matters in preparation for upcoming school years. Alton Porter Photo.

By Alton Porter

KENNARD – Kennard ISD officials are finalizing the district’s application for its 2020-2022 federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II (ESSER II) grant funds and preparing to receive the grant, according to district Superintendent Malinda Lindsey.

Lindsey informed members of the Kennard Independent School District Board of Trustees at a meeting Thursday, June 17, that “we have received our allocation for ESSER II application; we are working on that.”

“While our allotment is $555,000, a portion of that will be taken up to offset funds we will get, Lindsey explained. “So, we don’t know exactly how much we will have to spend in addition.”

During the recognition part of the meeting, the trustees and Lindsey commended the Kennard High School baseball team that advanced all the way to state finals in the University Interscholastic League Class 1A baseball tournament, winning the championship runner-up award earlier this month.

“We’re proud of our team and community support that was given to our team,” Lindsey said. “So, we’re very appreciative of our community.

Regarding the ESSER initiative, in 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three stimulus bills that provided nearly $190.5 billion to the ESSER Fund, according to the Texas Association of School Business Officials website. Those funds are for ESSER I, ESSER II and ESSER III.

While the main focus of ESSER I was for preventing, preparing for and responding to COVID-19, ESSER II and ESSER III focus on school districts reopening and operating safely, as well as, addressing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students.

The ESSER II Fund, passed in December 2020 under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act. ESSER II is expected to provide $4.977 billion to Texas school districts, including the $555,000 allotment to KISD.

Texas school systems were instructed by the Texas Education Agency to use the funds to respond to the pandemic and to address student learning loss as a result of COVID-19.

In an action taken by the trustees, they passed a motion approving a board resolution regarding ESSER II and Policy CB (Local), State and Federal Revenue Sources.

Regarding this item, Lindsey told the trustees, “Any time you’re going to apply for federal funds we have to have a public notice or comment opportunity. And our policy states that we will have that public notice during a board meeting when we apply for federal funds.”

In addition, Lindsey told the trustees that the district’s 2021-2022 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated Application is being submitted. Each year, district officials have to apply for the federal ESSA grant funds.

And, in the upcoming school year, the district’s grant will be about $2,000 less than last year’s, Lindsey said. “We just have to notify the board that we had applied for the Covid monies.”

The purpose of ESSA is to provide supplemental resources to local educational agencies to help schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families provide high-quality education that will enable all children to meet the challenging state academic standards.

It exists to make sure public schools provide a quality education for all kids and gives states more of a say in how schools account for student achievement. This includes the achievement of disadvantaged students. These students fall into four key groups: students in poverty, minorities, students who receive special education and those with limited English language skills.

Under ESSA, states get to decide the education plans for their schools within a framework provided by the federal government. The law also offers parents a chance to weigh in on these plans. This is important if one’s child gets special education services. They have the opportunity to make sure their child’s needs are taken into account.

In other business, concerning repairs that need to be made to district facilities, Lindsey said officials have received a $16,500 quote to make electrical system and other facility improvements to the Ag Department building.

A motion to approve a Missed School Day Waiver for May 12 in the previous school year, carried on a majority vote of the trustees. Lindsey noted “May 11, we had significant rainfall… and we were unable to run buses to school. So, we’re asking for a Missed School Day Waiver.

“Also, last week, the people of the (commissioners) court of Houston County did declare a disaster during the timeframe from April 21 ‘til later. So, we’ll also submit that documentation as proof.”

The trustees passed another motion approving reading and math intervention instructional materials.

Since these cost a certain amount, “we have to bring them in to the board,” said Lindsey. “We will use our ESSER III funding… to purchase Fountas (& Pinnell) seven LLI—Leveled Literacy Intervention—in the amount of $27,000. And DreamBox (Learning) for our Math Intervention Program is around about $13,000. These will be used by our interventionists.”

The Fountas & Pinnell LLI System is an intensive, small-group, supplementary literacy intervention system for students who find reading and writing difficult, according to the Fountas & Pinnell website. LLI’s goal “is to lift the literacy achievement of students who are not achieving grade-level expectations in reading.

“It is a powerful, short-term intervention, that provides daily, intensive, small-group instruction, which supplements classroom literacy teaching. LLI turns struggling readers into successful readers with engaging leveled books and fast-paced, systematically designed lessons.”

After reconvening the meeting’s open session following a closed session, the trustees approved the hiring of seven new employees, the resignation of six employees and one-time incentive payments to employees.

Those hired are baseball coach and teacher Blake Wallace; dyslexia and gifted & talented teacher Jessica Stafford; life skills teacher Katie Davis; first grade teacher Katie Conner; special education teacher Abigail Burfire; culinary, theater and art staffer Emily Carder; and third & fifth grade mathematics teacher Candace Carroll.

Those who recently resigned are Amanda Farmer, Courtney Trapp, Craig Deckard, Lissa Wade, Mylinda Cole and Heather Mooneyham.

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