By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials are using federal funds to enhance the schools for the district’s students.
The district received the federal money from The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).
“This money is used to help the district prevent, prepare, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden.
Ogden emphasized the ESSER money is federally funded and no money is being spent from the district’s general fund for the projects listed below. She also said there are no plans to ask the voters to approve an operating levy before 2024.
Last fall Groveport Madison received $1.9 million in ESSER 1 money that was used to pay teachers working in the Cruiser Digital Academy as well as provide personal protective equipment to students and staff to protect them from the coronavirus.
This spring the district received $8.3 million in ESSER 2 funding that is being used districtwide this summer to help fund: the Cruiser Connect program (see story about this program on the Messenger website); pay for eight instructional coaches for teachers to help with reading and math instruction and technology integration in the classrooms; 200 computer tablets for pre-school; reimbursements for Chromebook computer losses and repairs; and updating staff Chromebooks where needed.
“The ESSER 2 funds also are helping to pay for a ton of facility work at our buildings this summer to create safer and healthier environments for students and staff,” said Ogden.
These facility projects districtwide include: HVAC improvements that will help clean the air in the schools by eradicating viruses, bacteria, germs, and mold; replacing fluorescent lighting with more efficient LED lighting (except for the high school which already has LED lighting); replacing restroom faucets with touch less faucets and replacing sinks where needed; more personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies; replacing drinking fountains with new fountains that include touchless water bottle fillers; additional furniture where needed, including lunch tables that will allow for proper social distancing space, a feature that was requested by the students; new phonics kits for grades K-2; six aides (one each for each elementary school) who will work with kids who need sensory breaks and a place to refocus before returning to the classroom; computer hot spots for students who lack internet access at home; and vape detectors in the middle schools and high school and restrooms.
“The improved HVAC systems means cleaner air for the kids,” said Ogden.
“It brings more air in and disinfects it as it moves through the system,” added Groveport Madison Deputy Superintendent Jamie Grube.
Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said the new, full spectrum LED lighting will create a better learning environment for students and result in utility savings to the district
Ogden said the idea for installing vape detectors came from the students who are worried about vaping and smoking in the schools.
“The vape detectors can detect smoke from marijuana, e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and from a fire. They can also detect loud noise,” said Ogden. “The detector notifies our administrators, staff, principals, and school resource officers. If something happens, there can be an instant response.”
Some ESSER 2 funds are going toward work at a few specific school buildings, including: needed improved asphalt in paved play areas at Asbury, Dunloe, Glendening, and Groveport elementaries, which will enable outdoor learning activities as requested by the students; roof replacement at Sedalia Elementary; HVAC improvements for the Groveport Elementary gym and auditorium; and the replacement of the old, two classroom modular unit at Groveport Elementary with a new, four classroom modular that includes restrooms.
“The new modular at Groveport Elementary will provide more space and have better heating and cooling than the old modular,” said Ogden.
Added Grube, “The replacement modular classroom eases pressure on the building, but it is not a long term solution to our classroom overcrowding for the school district.”
Groveport Madison Treasurer Felicia Drummey said these ESSER 2 funds must be used up by September 2023.
ESSER 3 funding
In March 2021, the district was notified it could receive $18.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act ESSER 3 funding that must be spent by September 2024.
Ogden said the decisions on how this funding is to be spent requires input from the Groveport Madison Board of Education and the community. The public is invited to the board’s June 22 meeting at 7 p.m. in the administrative offices, 4400 Marketing Place, Suite B, in Groveport, to offer input.
“We are also sending a survey to our district families with students asking them how they would like to see this money spent,” said Ogden. “The survey will be on our website at gocruisers.org and it will also be emailed to families and staff.”
The plan for the ESSER 3 funds must be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education by Aug. 20. The district will also post on its website by June 24 its plan for this fall’s in-person return to school.
“Our ultimate goal is getting our kids and staff back in the classroom in a healthy and safe environment,” said Ogden.