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Central Texas school districts using federal funds to help students get back on track

(Photo by Bill Gowdy)
(Photo by Bill Gowdy)(KWTX)
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 12:08 PM CDT
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MARLIN, Texas (KWTX) - School districts around the country are getting extra funding from the federal government, thanks to stimulus packages passed in recent months. The grants come from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and the money has to be used to help offset the impact of the pandemic.

The school year is right around the corner, and now districts are implementing funds to help students get back on track. Marlin ISD superintendent Dr. Darryl Henson said the district will receive about $3.8 million to spend over the next three years.

Dr. Henson said a community survey from this spring highlighted a few goals for the funds, including literacy, especially early childhood literacy, middle school math and making sure when students graduate, they are career, college or military ready.

Dr. Henson said those results were not surprising.

“We knew that we would need to accelerate any learning that was lost due to the pandemic, and it kind of keyed into our actual goals,” Dr. Henson said. “Literacy in our elementary, mathematics in our middle school and getting everything cleaned up and wrapped up to accelerate our high school students to prepare for life after high school.

Dr. Henson said they want to make sure the district is using the money to not only catch students up, but accelerate their learning. He said one of the first focuses for the funding will be on curriculum.

“How can we accelerate our students who might be a year and a half behind due to any learning loss taking place by the pandemic,” Dr. Henson said. “By having additional instructional coaches and interventionist support every learner in every classroom across our district is going to be critical.”

In addition to bringing in the extra staff, Dr. Henson said they also plan to create a more enriching environment in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade classrooms.

Within the first few weeks, the district plans to test students to see where they stand. That data will help guide other ways marlin can use the funding.

“Once we have the baseline data, that’s when we can begin to utilize, to purchase our additional curriculum materials,” Dr. Henson son. “We have in place our instructional coaches, so they’ll be across the district, helping our teachers in getting a true pulse of where our students are academically.”

Other districts in the area have received funding as well. Waco and Belton ISD plan to use some of the grant they received for teacher bonuses.

Midway ISD also received funding, and the district plans to use the funding to significantly expand their tutoring offerings. A statute that went into effect earlier this year requires tutoring for students who did not pass STAAR tests.

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