School district seeks input on ARPA spending

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska Public Schools has been allocated $1.888 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act money to spend during a three-year period to help pay for programming, facility improvements and technology items that are intended to create a healthier, safer learning environment.

Assistant Superintendent Beverly Moore on Sept. 1 held a public meeting in the cafeteria of Pawhuska Elementary School to discuss the school district's American Rescue Plan Act spending projections, and to solicit ideas for improving the district's approach to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moore noted in a printed handout, and touched on in her remarks during the meeting, the requirement that Pawhuska Public Schools spend $377,757.50 on summer programming, after-school tutoring and additional academic support measures to address learning loss by students.

The remaining portion of the funding can be used to help Pawhuska Public Schools respond adequately to other challenges related to the pandemic. Moore said the school district's spending choices are being guided by considerations regarding the prevention of COVID-19, and responding effectively if district students and staff members do contract the illness.

Moore and others who participated in the meeting mentioned concern for the homeless as an area of need they wished to be sure to effectively address.

Moore explained that the Pawhuska district has already started to act on some of its spending priorities. An example was the replacement of an existing camera system with a "state of the art system that has the ability to track visitors, staff, and students with a high performance search system."

"This system also has an integrated temperature monitoring system that will check temperatures of anyone entering the area," according to the printed handout for the meeting. "If a temperature is detected it will notify the proper administrator."

Moore said the camera system had already been received, and the district was awaiting delivery of a computer server to make the system operational.

Another type of technology resource mentioned in the district's spending plan is interactive televisions for classrooms and extra-curricular spaces, to allow students to participate in small-group and large-group learning.

There was also discussion in the meeting about the possibility of saving sick leave hours for school employees to use when they or their families have to miss work for reasons related to COVID-19.

To encourage staffing continuity, the Pawhuska School District offered $1,000 stipends to full-time employees as of the end of the 2021 spring semester who chose to return to their jobs with the district for the fall semester. Part-time employees who chose to return were approved for $500 stipends.

Moore emphasized the ARPA spending plan she reviewed during the meeting was a living document that could change over time, based on staff and community suggestions. If you have questions, suggestions or other comments, contact Beverly Moore by telephone at 918-287-1265, Extension 5007, or via email at beverlymoore@pawhuskadistrict.org.