How to use a billion in federal dollars was a major focus at the June West Virginia Board of Education meeting on Wednesday.
Members discussed the additional $760 million that is available for West Virginia K-12 schools through the American Rescue Plan.
“The major goals of the American Rescue Plan is to safely reopen schools to in-person instruction and keep them open, and the second is to address the disruptions to teaching and learning resulting from the pandemic,” said Melanie Purkey, executive director of the WVDE’s Office of Federal Programs. “We have to keep those two major goals in mind as we think about how we will spend this money, and districts need to keep that in mind as they decide how to spend this money.”
This third round of COVID-relief dollars, along with previously unspent funds, totals $1.2 billion for the state’s education system.
More than $730 million is already being dedicated to learning remediation, summer programs, and after school opportunities. Districts are allowed to use remaining funds at their discretion but with limits — all projects must be for the prevention, preparation and response to COVID-19.
Schools can use the money to hire new teachers, support current ones, hire more counselors, renovate air systems, or to make cleaning easier, like replacing bathroom sinks with automatic, non-touch faucets.
But there are steps for approval involved, too. Districts must get approval from the state department, while the state department must get approval from the federal government.
The state school board submitted its most recent spending roadmap and plan to the federal government on Monday.
State officials say that plan will be out for public comment on June 20.