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Dare school board hears about funding for addressing learning loss

For Dare County Schools, state and federal funding focuses the system on recovering learning loss from COVID-19 pandemic.

At the April meeting of the Dare Board of Education, the board allocated a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief grant to help protect the physical and mental health at schools and help bridge the gap for students with unique learning needs.

The board allocated $154,481 for hiring an additional social worker for the district. For two years, the system will have three social workers, one for Hatteras Island schools, one for Roanoke Island schools and one for the beach schools.

A total of $54,602 will be available for instructional/remediation support. The district will use these funds to provide stipends to teachers during the June session of summer school.

Nationally, the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund sent $675,000 to the Dare school system. The system used those funds that arrived in the fall to purchase personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies and to support the school nutrition program.

Dare County Schools Superintendent John Farrelly said a second wave of funding from the relief fund is expected to total $2.3 million. Dare County will use the funds to mitigate learning loss and build emotional wellness among students. The funds must be allocated by September 2023.

A third wave will bring $5.2 million which must be allocated in 2024.

Said Farrelly, “$7 million is a significant amount of money.”

Farrelly is confident that the learning gap can be closed in two years with an increase in learning time and access to highly effective teachers.

The superintendent said the downside is worrying about sustaining newly hired teachers after two years, a worry that will be disclosed to candidates.

General Assembly legislation states what will be taught in summer school and the bonus and proficiency awards to teachers. Summer school by legislation must last 30 days or 150 hours. Dare County Schools summer schedule calls for 30 days. For the summer session, transportation will be provided, as will meals. The Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund supports the summer program. The system’s summer reading camp will be incorporated into the new program.

At the April 13 meeting, the board:

– Agreed to reopen school facilities to community use. An application for use is in place, but use requirements will undergo some changes due to the coronavirus.

– Received a report from the board’s naming committee and agreed to name the renovated Cape Hatteras Secondary Field House for Scott Day, an outstanding teacher, baseball coach and athletic director.

– Accepted a $10,000 donation from Mossy Oak Properties to Manteo High School Athletic Program in honor of Coach William Creef, who was an integral part of the Manteo High School baseball program for over 20 years. He led the Babe Ruth Baseball League and led some teams to the Babe Ruth World Series, two of which were played at Manteo High School in 1996 and 1998. The donation was designated for renovation, repairs and necessary improvements to the weight room to meet growing numbers and usage by teams and students.

– Adopted the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. Below are listed the items by school for Fiscal Year 2022:

Kitty Hawk Elementary: Bleachers, $50,000

First Flight High School: Section/siding replacement/paint, $50,000

First Flight Elementary School: Boiler upgrades, $350,000

Manteo Elementary School: Chiller replacement, $350,000

Cape Hatteras Secondary School: Air handler unit replacement in library and gym, $270,000

Cape Hatteras Secondary School: Flat roof replacement 6th grade, $80,000

Cape Hatteras Elementary School: Exterior paint/siding, $200,000

Transportation: Diesel tank and pump at Cape Hatteras Secondary, $65,000

District: HVAC controls hardware, $60,000

District: Playground equipment, $180,000*

Total for FY 2022: $1,655,000

*Note: Farrelly reported to the Board of Education that every elementary school asked for playground equipment. In FY 2023, another $180,000 is to be spent on playground equipment and in 2024, $120,000 is marked for playground equipment. By the end of three years, all elementary schools will have playground equipment requests honored.

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