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Funding plan up for comment in Hancock County

NEW CUMBERLAND — Hancock County residents have another week to offer their thoughts on the county school board’s requests for funding under the American Rescue Plan.

A copy of the proposal through the ARP Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funding program is available online through the Hancock County Board of Education’s website, with comments accepted through Aug. 11 by emailing dpetrovi@k12.wv.us.

“The comments will be added to the application,” Superintendent Dawn Petrovich explained during the school board’s July 26 regular meeting.

The school board has budgeted a total request of $8,269,527.10 through the ARP, with plans to provide matching funds to address areas including learning loss, summer enrichment and after-school programs. Details on plans for each area, including minimum funding, personnel needed and length of time are included in the 33-page presentation. Statistics also are available for the county’s school assessment results for the last few years, graduation rates, attendance, the number of students failing courses and other indicators of performance both for in-school and online education. The plan also includes information on planned capital improvements to assist with preventative measures in the county’s continuing efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

One proposal is the development of a new website for the school district, which would include the ability to have push notifications from the website onto Facebook, Twitter and a new smartphone application to keep the public updated. A calling system also will be available to notify parents.

“It should make communication much easier, much simpler,” Joe Campinelli, chief finance officer, said.

In the last year, the school board has taken several steps on its own, including purchasing iPads for each student and establishing wireless hot spots for each school, purchasing thermal temperature scanners, providing training to staff for remote learning, purchasing sanitizing misters, hiring part-time employees to sanitize buses daily, three additional nurses and coordinated vaccination clinics in cooperation with the county health department.

The school board also hired four mental health counselors, purchased personal protective equipment, provided lunch to students during remote learning days and worked with the health departments to establish social distancing and other preventive measures.

According to the plan, students in Hancock County were estimated to have missed 60 days of in-person instruction since March 2020.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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