Derby faculty superintendent enthusiastic about potentialities for federal stimulus cash

DERBY – The increase in federal funding for schools makes it “an exciting time to be in education,” said school principal Matthew Conway

The administration is still debating how best to use the funds and identifying the needs of students and staff, with an emphasis on academics, family and community relationships, school safety, social emotional wellbeing, and technology.

Twenty percent goes to longer study days and summer programs, but from there Conway sees the funding as a great opportunity for change.

“Keep saying we could do things differently if we had the money. Well, we have the money. That’s the damn exciting thing about it,” he said.

The federal aid packages that are being used to pump money into schools – the American rescue plan and the emergency fund for elementary and secondary schools – are designed to help districts recover from the aftermath of the pandemic and find a way forward.

Derby public schools’ share of the American Rescue Plan is $ 4.5 million in addition to the $ 1.7 million from ESSER.

That cash boost for all Connecticut public schools is roughly 31/2 times the state aid they would receive in a typical fiscal year.

Cities also get a pot of federal aid through these packages, with the city valued at around $ 3.6 million.

Conway said the hard question is what a new path will look like.

The schools have two years to spend the funds. These contain usage terms and conditions and add to the operating budget so Derby cannot use them for typical ongoing expenses.

Furthermore, as districts in the state and the country vie for the same resources, some will lose, he said.

“That’s the exact reason we can’t see this going out and hiring because it’s not a sustainable approach,” he said. “That’s why you have to rethink what you will do with the funding and how you can best influence learning in the long term. It doesn’t mean hiring short-term support – it’s about better ways to deliver learning for today and for the future. “

Although millions of dollars have already been spent filling performance gaps and improving the curriculum, Derby and others haven’t seen big improvements, Conway said, but it’s not the teachers’ fault.

There are systemic and external factors at play that go beyond what curricula and learning models can take into account, he said.

“You have to look outside the classroom,” said Conway. “You need to get the wider community involved in these discussions and what you can do to influence them.”

If the district can find a way to use its resources to address the external factors, they will be better positioned to have long-term impact, he said.

“Instead of just having a ‘if’ conversation, we have a real opportunity to do so,” he said.

Derby schools were full in person this school year, and with the administration considering how to distribute the money, Conway wants to hear from the students about how their school year went.

He wants to create an essay contest across grade levels in which they describe what they experienced so that the district can better understand their needs.

Conway expects some of these funds to be spent by the summer, particularly to support accelerated learning across grade levels.

mdignan@hearstmediact.com

DERBY – The $ 6.2 million one-time federal funding raised to Derby schools makes it an “exciting time to be in education,” said principal Matthew Conway.

The administration is still debating how best to use the funds, identifying the needs of students and staff, focusing on academics, family and community relationships, school safety, social emotional wellbeing, and technology.

Twenty percent goes to longer study days and summer programs, but from there Conway sees the funding as a great opportunity for change.

“Keep saying we could do things differently if we had the money – now we have the money. That’s what’s so damn exciting about it, ”he said.

The federal aid packages that are being used to pump money into schools – the American rescue plan and the emergency fund for elementary and secondary schools – are designed to help districts recover from the aftermath of the pandemic and find a way forward.

Derby public schools’ share of the American Rescue Plan is $ 4.5 million in addition to the $ 1.7 million from ESSER.

The increase in the amount of money for all Connecticut public schools is approximately 3.5 times the state aid they would receive in a typical fiscal year.

Cities are also getting a pot of federal aid through the same packages, with the city valued at around $ 3.6 million.

The schools have two years to spend the funds. These contain usage terms and conditions and add to the operating budget so Derby cannot use them for typical ongoing expenses.

Furthermore, as districts in the state and the country vie for the same resources, some will lose, he said.

“That’s the exact reason we can’t see this going out and hiring because it’s not a sustainable approach,” he said. “That’s why you have to rethink what you will do with the funding and how you can best influence learning in the long term. It doesn’t mean hiring short-term support – it’s about better ways to deliver learning for today and for the future. “

Although millions of dollars are already being used to fill performance gaps and improve the curriculum, Derby and others haven’t seen big improvements, Conway said, but it’s not the teachers’ fault.

There are systemic and external factors at play that go beyond what curricula and learning models can take into account, he said.

“You have to look outside the classroom,” said Conway. “You need to get the wider community involved in these discussions and what you can do to influence them.”

If the district can find a way to use its one-time funding to address the external factors, it will be better positioned to have long-term impact, he said.

“Instead of just having a ‘if’ conversation, we have a real opportunity to do so,” he said.

Derby schools were full in person this school year, and with the administration considering how to distribute the money, Conway wants to hear from the students about how their school year went.

He said he would run an essay contest across grade levels so that students and parents describe what they experienced so that the district can better understand their needs.

Conway said he expects to spend some of the funds by the summer, particularly to support accelerated learning across grade levels.

mdignan@hearstmediact.com