Greater Jasper to receive Covid relief funds


JASPER — Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools is receiving just over $2.1 million for COVID-19 relief to spend within the next three years.

Indiana public schools are receiving nearly $2.6 billion total through two Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief grant rounds. The funds are part of aid packages Congress passed in December 2020 and March 2021, known as ESSER II and III. The first relief package came through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES.

School districts across the state are receiving different amounts of money based on the number of children from low-income families. Some schools received a little more than $100,000, while others received more than $145 million.

Some of the money must be used for specific purposes, such as learning loss programs, but much of it is up to each district on how it will be spent. Other potential uses can be for facility improvements, technology upgrades and mental health services.

The funds awarded to Greater Jasper were finalized Monday before the evening’s school board meeting, said Tina Fawks, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. She explained to the board that the funds will be used for learning loss recovery, intervention resources, social and emotional learning resources, food service and transportation, and technology upgrades. The specific spending has not been finalized for the most part, but the general allocations have been laid out.

About $360,000 will be used to address student learning needs, Fawks said. This includes implementing JumpStart programs, which will be offered at Jasper Elementary, Jasper Middle School and Ireland Elementary School, as well as planning stipends for teachers, high school credit recovery support and student fees, expansion of the afterschool program and stipends for staff to plan for learning loss. There are also tentative plans to reduce some elementary classroom sizes by adding three primary grade teachers over the next three years.

A little over $200,000 will be used for subscriptions to intervention resources, Fawks said.

“These are going to be tools that would target individual student learning needs in the classroom, as well as intervention materials for at-risk populations, so some things our special ed departments might use or our EL teachers might use,” she said.

About $140,000 will be used to address social and emotional learning, which includes the Panorama Student Success platform, some planning meeting stipends for SEL staff and a part-time social worker at the high school.

Around $285,000 will be used for food service and transportation needs, including a new food truck that will be used to transport meals to students.

“In the summertime, we have a summer food program, but it only works if people can get to us,” Superintendent Tracy Lorey said. “So this way, we could deliver a hot lunch or even a sack lunch to different locations across the city, and more kids could take advantage of the opportunity ... Based on our free and reduced numbers, we know there’s quite a bit of food insecurity for families.”

These funds will also cover an 84-passenger bus and a 15-passenger activity bus.

Lastly, about $580,000 will be allocated for technology needs. This will include updating student devices, renewing data for Wi-Fi hotspots that students can check out, and additional tools to support hybrid learning, such as a Zoom subscription.

The school board also:

• Approved the resignation of Ashten Kahle, math teacher at Jasper High School; Beth Pfister, instructional assistant at Jasper Elementary; Elizabeth Huebner, instructional assistant at Jasper Elementary; Cassie Guth, middle school student council sponsor at Jasper Middle School; Jasmine Jacob, cafeteria supervisor at Jasper Elementary; Kathi Brooner, deaf/hard-of-hearing teacher at DSP co-op; and Sara Carpenter, SLPA at DSP co-op.

• Approved the resignation of Nancy Kluesner, who worked as a bus driver for nearly 27 years, and approved the purchase of Kluesner’s bus for $7,500.

• Approved the recommendation of Madison Renner, elementary teacher at Ireland Elementary; Janessa Potts, SLP at Jasper Elementary/Ireland Elementary; Brayley Kern, 35-hour per week Title I instructional assistant at Jasper Elementary; Ashley Jacob, secretary/treasurer at Jasper Elementary; Andres Schroeder, head girls soccer coach at Jasper Middle School; Jasmine Jacob, assistant soccer coach at Jasper Middle School; and Dana Williams, behavior and services coordinator at DSP co-op.

• Approved the 2021-22 JMS student handbook.

• Approved the 2021 summer school staff.

• Approved a new French 4/Advanced Placement textbook.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with LifeSpring Health Systems for school-based mental health services as required by Indiana code.

• Approved one-time staff extra duty stipends for the 2020-21 school year as a reward for going above and beyond work requirements during the pandemic.

• Gave the Jasper Bike Club permission to use the Birk and Berg Bike Park on school property in conjunction with Strassenfest.

• Declared DSP Co-op equipment surplus, including several phones and iPads.

• Approved the establishment of a JHS Athletic Hall of Fame to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the school’s athletic success.

• Approved a backup/data recovery agreement with RTI for $17,688.97 annually.

• Heard that construction of the parking lot at the old Tenth Street Elementary School site is set to be completed by Sept. 3.

• Accepted the low bid of $801,760 for parking lot construction at the old Fifth Street Elementary School. The project is set to be completed by Aug. 13, pending good weather.

• Accepted the low bid of $1,660,000 for construction of a bus maintenance building. The project is set to be completed by June 1, 2022.

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