FCPS administration building

The Frederick County Public Schools Central Office is at 191 S. East St. in Frederick.

Frederick County Public Schools is seeking community input on how it should spend nearly $38 million in federal coronavirus relief money.

Until July 27, community members can share feedback on a proposed list of updates and new programs to be funded with the $37.9 million FCPS will receive through the American Rescue Plan. The list, which FCPS released Tuesday, targets five main issues: learning loss, student health, staff retention, technology upgrades and community engagement.

The items on the list run the gamut of pandemic recovery, from a 24/7 homework helpline for middle and high schoolers to expanded therapy services for uninsured students to updated technology infrastructure. FCPS compiled the list based on input from its staff and “various stakeholders,” according to a news release.

“We’re just looking for the public to please review these items and let us know if you think they’re properly prioritized,” Leslie Pellegrino, the system’s chief financial officer, told the News-Post. “And let us know if there’s any additional areas that they might want to suggest that we look into.”

The money heading to FCPS comes from a pool of about $122 billion the U.S. Department of Education is distributing to state education departments, which will then divide it among their districts.

About $2 billion of the total funding is earmarked for Maryland.

The grant guidelines mandate that 20 percent of the funds — which FCPS will be able to use through September 2024 — go toward combating learning loss and unfinished instruction, Pellegrino said. And the American Rescue Plan urges states to develop programming specifically for underserved groups, such as low-income students, racial and ethnic minorities and children who are in foster care or experiencing homelessness.

English-language coaches for high school students and a “transition program” to help students after psychiatric hospitalizations are among FCPS’ possible funding priorities.

The system plans to use a portion of the money to update HVAC systems at Glade and Kemptown elementary schools, as well as the Career and Technology Center. Guidelines for the grant allow coverage of air quality updates, Pellegrino said, and those facilities were the best candidates.

“This grant wants us to focus on how we respond to the pandemic,” Pellegrino said, “but also, how would we respond if there is another type of pandemic?”

The school system must finalize its plans for the state education department by July 30, Pellegrino said. But until then, it has the freedom to shift priorities and add or subtract items.

Community members can view the proposed funding list and provide feedback at fcps.org/fis cal/arp-esser.

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek

(12) comments

trwz

Do NOT give bonuses to administrators. $1,000 bonuses??? The money should be used for our children and their safety.

TomWheatley

In general, one thing NOT to do with one time funding is to add staff or programs that have a large yearly recurring cost. Although one can think of many reasons to increase salaries, etc. the key issue is that this money in a one shot. Go for air filters or other infrastructure improvements. This will of course have recurring costs, but not near the expense of the other items mentioned.

Kville

Turn it into grants so parents can have their kids go to private schools.

vodalone

How about weekly rapid Covid testing for all students and staff instead of that annoying phone call every Sunday night. Also better air filtration systems in older schools and schools with an open layout.

Piedmontgardener

Good points. I think upgrading ventilation is a necessity, going forward. This isn't the only pandemic we'll see.

AOC

Aren't the 7 elected members of the Board of Education the representatives of the electorate?

newspostreader

Seems like if they need input on how to spend it that maybe they really don't need it.

LAR1

👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

tatt2ed

Maybe refund a portion of my property taxes that went toward education.

FcpsAdmin2

Pay a first class recruiting firm to begin a national search for a competent superintendent.

bpsws

Upgrade air filtering systems to those that will use a high level of HEPA filters. Or, put an air filterer in every classroom. Or open up the buildings without windows to the outside and install windows to get a flow of fresh air.

WalkTheTown

While I was about to agree that if they have to ask how to spend it they might not need it, this is a good point. However, I think it will take a lot more than $38M to not just update, but maintain, such air filtration systems. FCPS will have to be diligent in maintenance of HEPA systems.

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