HALLOWELL — Regional School Unit 2 will receive just over $3 million through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), also known as the third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER).

The total amount RSU 2 will get is $3,088,400. The American Rescue Plan requires districts to set aside 20% — or $617,680 for RSU 2 — of the allocation to target learning losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic as well as fixing other “longstanding inequalities” in school districts, according to the Department of Education.

How much money each district receives from the ARP grant is determined by the DOE, which uses state 2020 Title 1 data. Districts have until Sept. 30, 2023, to spend the money and can use ARP funds to offset costs from back when the national emergency was declared in March of 2020.

Last year, when the first and second rounds of the ESSER money became available, the RSU 2 school board asked for more details regarding the district’s relief spending, the Kennebec Journal found through a public records request.

The superintendent of RSU 2, Tonya Arnold, directed the Kennebec Journal to the district’s website to see the plan for the ARP money, but the document does not include specific dollar amounts for the intended areas. In some cases, but not all, the costs are specified.

In the area of learning losses, the district is ramping up one-on-one support though hiring social and emotional support coordinators, training staff and teachers in social and emotional support, as well as organizing intervention training, tutoring, and learning recovery alternatives.

The document does not say how much it will cost the district, but the grant requires the district to spend at least $617,680 in this area.  It reveals the positions hired will be either contracted with benefits or salaried with benefits, but does not give the specific amounts that new hires will be paid.

Regional School Unit 38 will receive $1,496,983 in ARP money, RSU 12 will get $2,420,309, Maine School Administrative District 11 will get $3,628,449, the Winthrop Public Schools will get $1,508,026 and the Augusta Public Schools will get $6,901,768, according to the DOE.

Other RSU 2 plans for the ARP money involve a “COVID mitigation safety project” and “creating space for more students.”

RSU 2 has already started creating space for more students with the purchase of two portable classrooms for Marcia Buker Elementary School and one for Dresden Elementary School.

The district also moved the fifth grade students from Hall-Dale Elementary School to Hall-Dale Middle and High School (HDMHS) in an attempt to create more space. The renovation costs are covered by the ARP money, but again a specific amount is lacking.

The spreadsheet says the district would like to increase transportation, as well through additional contracts or through adding drivers.

Under the COVID mitigation rubric, there is a plan to improve the airflow within the schools. RSU 2 will finish ventilation upgrades at Monmouth Academy at a projected cost of $60,000. HDMHS will receive an upgrade to its ventilation system too, and all schools will get an ionization unit.

The district will replace generators in the central office for $136,000, at Monmouth Academy for $185,000, and at Marcia Buker Elementary School for $137,690. HDMHS will get new windows to address ventilation issues.

In the area of contact tracing, stipends for nurses, administration and secretaries tasked with tracing on the weekends will go up to $30 an hour.

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