How the Milton School District has used its ESSER II funding so far this year was the subject of a presentation by Milton School District Director of Curriculum and Instruction Ryan Ruggles at a curriculum committee meeting Tuesday.
“We feel very gracious to have that money to support our students and teachers at this time,” Ruggles said. “We wanted to make sure that we were very diligent and mindful about where we were putting it.”
The three focus areas for ESSER II funding are universal curriculum and instruction, standards and assessment and multi-tiered system of supports process and support. The district’s strategic objectives include teaching and learning, relationships, climate and culture, high-quality staff, community engagement, and facilities and services.
“Universal instruction is one of the most important things that we can do with this money to support (students),” Ruggles said, “and making sure that all students have the resources and the instruction that they deserve.”
Ruggles explained that now is a good opportunity to focus on the school’s essential standards. The district asked principals to come up with ideas across all grade levels and school buildings.
“We want to make sure that we’re looking at equity throughout the plan, meaning all students’ opportunities for all achievement is part of our mission and vision,“ Ruggles said.
Universal instruction includes several areas worthy of the funding: responsive school training, AVID pathway training, Second Step Program curriculum, restorative practices, micro-credentialing, Literacy Footprints and equity leadership training.
“One of my teachers that I taught with could not believe the amount of books and literacy that was in her classroom when she moved in,“ said Shelly Crull-Hanke, clerk for the Milton School Board. The books were purchased through the guided-reading program Literacy Footprints.
“We’ve pushed the last couple years to beef up our classroom libraries,” Ruggles said. “That has been a goal for a couple years now to make sure that our kids have lots of good books and options.”
Crull-Hanke did bring up a concern for how the district will be using funds to help students who have fallen behind during the past school year.
“Are you using dollars for students who may need extra help? Like, extra reading teachers to help get these kids caught up? It may take two or three years,” Hanke said.
“We’re still planning what exactly those interventions are going to be,” Ruggles said. “We will need a lot more support in second and third grade. Right now, the vast majority of our reading support is going to make sure we meet all those needs. It might be more group-based interventions instead of individual interventions.”
Superintendent Richard Dahman said interns working at the kindergarten to sixth-grade level are freeing up time for small groups of students to meet.
“Our focus is really going to be around when we come back in the fall, identifying where our students are and what those needs are,” Dahman said “Some will have just normal summer learning loss. But we know that there’ll be students who need more than that, too.”
Ruggles also said financial resources should remain for when the district needs them in early August.