If Fairfax school leaders were leading a football-game cheer, it might go like: “Boola-boola, we’ve got the moolah.”
The federal COVID moolah, that is.
Fairfax School Board members have agreed on a plan to spend nearly $190 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) grant funding trickling down to the school system, and approved directives guiding the school district as it addresses the ongoing impact of COVID.
The plan will work to ensure “that staff have the tools to support student academic, social, emotional and mental health,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said.
“Our plan identifies clear and consistent expectations for what schools should offer as high quality academic content, addressing gaps in standards from the previous year, and standards to cover this school year.”
School officials seldom publicly acknowledge it, but recently released state Standards of Learning test scores show what many had suspected: With most Fairfax public-school students spending the past school year either fully or partially online rather than in classrooms, educational achievement lagged significantly. Test scores particularly cratered in science and math, especially at lower grade levels.
Some of the federal funding will be spent district-wide, while each school also will receive some of the cash, depending on its projected enrollment “and need,” school officials said.
“All schools will create a plan that outlines how they will use their ESSER III funding to support students’ academics and wellness, and they will post information about their plan,” officials said.
Funding will allow for support of special-education teachers, cafeteria monitors and school-bus drivers.
The American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress in March, provided $122.7 billion in ESSER III funding. Virginia will receive about $2.1 billion, in addition to the previously approved ESSER funding of $1.2 billion.